Last update:


Arch Hellen Med, 35(6), November-December 2018, 834-841


Ethical issues related to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide

D. Fragkou, P. Galanis
Department of Nursing, Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

In spite of the impressive developments in many scientific areas over the recent decades, in many instances, medicine still does not have much to offer to patients with terminal illness. Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide offer these patients the possibility to precipitate the process of death and relieve their endless pain. The question of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide raises a variety of ethical issues, leading to controversies among legal advisers, healthcare professionals, theologians and society as a whole. In particular, such ethical issues include the legalization of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in some countries, and the participation of informed patients in decision making about the mode of their death. The Hippocratic Oath urges physicians to not help patients to die, which is contrary to the fundamental principles of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Many groups and individuals support euthanasia and physician assisted suicide because of the impact of prolongation of terminal illness on the sufferers themselves and their families, on healthcare system and on the economy, while many others disapprove of, and actively oppose these actions. The Orthodox Church does not accept either euthanasia or physician assisted suicide. In conclusion, the ethical issues raised by euthanasia and physician assisted suicide concern not only patients, but also the healthcare professionals who have to deal with actions or omissions. A legal framework with respect to patient autonomy and rights in this area should be established in order to minimize disagreement and inconvenience.

Key words: Ethical issues, Euthanasia, Healthcare professionals, Physician assisted suicide.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine