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Prim Care. 2001 Jun;28(2):391-400.

Ethical and legal issues in palliative care.

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Department of Adult Development and Aging, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA.


As palliative care emerges as a respected and important component of contemporary health care, ethical issues will arise that confront and contest the provision of medical care. The basic principles of medical ethics, embodied in beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice, guide primary care physicians in dealing with dying patients. This article will discuss the basic ethical principles and the principle of double effect, decision-making capacity, advance directives, withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining therapy, futility, artificial nutrition and hydration, do-not-resuscitate orders, and physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

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