New guidelines for MDs draw line between relief of suffering and euthanasia

Joint Centre for Bioethics, Toronto

12 Sept 2002

Peter A. Singer

Intensive care unit physicians need to be comfortable prescribing drugs in whatever dose is needed to relieve a dying patient’s pain and suffering, even if this hastens the patient’s death, according to proposed new guidelines released today by researchers at an international medical ethics think-tank.

The guidelines identify the intent of the physician administering narcotics and sedatives as the most crucial distinction between palliative care – managing pain and suffering but not treating the underlying illness – and assisted death (euthanasia/assisted suicide).

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