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Ther Umsch. 2009 Aug;66(8):601-5. doi: 10.1024/0040-5930.66.8.601.

[Palliative care - difficult decisions at the end of life].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Spital Affoltern, Abteilung Geriatrie und Palliativmedizin, Affoltern am Albis. roland.kunz@spitalaffoltern.ch


Palliative care comprises the complete treatment and care of patients suffering from incurable, life-threatening or chronically progressive disease. The aim is to provide the patients with the best possible quality of life and support them through the course of their illness until their death, to alleviate their suffering as much as possible and in consideration of the social, spiritual and religious aspects according to the patient's wishes. Palliative care is most important when the dying process and the patient's impending death do seem to be inevitable. Shared decision-making at an early stage of illness is mandatory. Respect for a person's dignity means focusing on their autonomy, their personal preferences and their right to live according to their own values and convictions. A person's autonomy is based on the level of information that he or she is given, the pertinent situation, and the patient's readiness and ability to take responsibility for their own life and end-of-life decisions. Decisions about life-prolonging measures, treatment of pain, dyspnea and palliative sedation require balancing the burden against the benefits. Decision-making must rest with the patient - as far as possible and as long as possible. The potential life-shortening effect of palliative therapy will need to be considered and discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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