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AMA J Ethics. 2017 Aug 1;19(8):802-814. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.8.msoc1-1708.

Should Euthanasia Be Considered Iatrogenic?

Author information

1
Clinical fellow in pediatric palliative care at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and a Hecht-Levi Postdoctoral Fellow at the Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore.
2
Pediatric hematologist/oncologist at the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore, and a core faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and an assistant professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and the chairman of the Sinai Hospital Ethics Committee. He is also a member of the Children's Oncology Group Bioethics Steering Committee.

Abstract

As more countries adopt laws and regulations concerning euthanasia, pediatric euthanasia has become an important topic of discussion. Conceptions of what constitutes harm to patients are fluid and highly dependent on a myriad of factors including, but not limited to, health care ethics, family values, and cultural context. Euthanasia could be viewed as iatrogenic insofar as it results in an outcome (death) that some might consider inherently negative. However, this perspective fails to acknowledge that death, the outcome of euthanasia, is not an inadvertent or preventable complication but rather the goal of the medical intervention. Conversely, the refusal to engage in the practice of euthanasia might be conceived as iatrogenic insofar as it might inadvertently prolong patient suffering. This article will explore cultural and social factors informing families', health care professionals', and society's views on pediatric euthanasia in selected countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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