Table of Contents
Definition of voluntary assisted dying.
Critical analysis of ethical dilemmas of a nurse in context of voluntary assisted dying.
Critical analysis of legal dilemmas of a nurse in context of voluntary assisted dying.
Strategies used by healthcare professionals to manage the complexities of this context
Voluntary assisted dying is well-known process in which an individual who is suffering from illness and at end of their life, are able to choose the method and timing of their death. Specifically, those people who are suffering from an incurable progressive disease, or medical condition are able to access voluntary assisted dying. The laws for voluntary assisted dying were initially passed by Victoria, present in Australia. According to the legislation passed by Western Australia, voluntary assisted dying become a choice for people in mid- 2021 (Voluntary assisted dying, 2020, para. 1-2). Nurses play a major role in assisting the patient for their end-of-life care, and in variety of cases they work to develop the process of voluntary assisted dying. However, they face several ethical and legal issues while voluntary assisted dying process, which are needed to be reduced by maintaining effective strategies (Health practitioner information, 2020, para. 2-3). Hence, the thesis statement of this essay is “to address the ethical and legal dilemmas of nurse during voluntary assisted dying, and the strategies to manage them”.
Voluntary assisted dying refers to those people who are at end stage of life and suffering from advanced diseases, and are not willing to live anymore. They are able to choose the timings of their death and can take medications which are prescribed by the healthcare workers that helps to bring death at the time they have chosen. People who follow the set process and meet the specified conditions in the laws are only able to access voluntary assisted dying medications. These set conditions involve the health condition of an individual, that means the incurable disease, medical condition, pain or intolerable illness that an individual is facing which can be controlled by voluntary assisted dying. Usually, it is self-administered process and an individual itself initiate it and volunteer (Monteverde, 2017, p. 3–8).
According to this law, person may be given some medications by healthcare practitioners by which they can die at the time they have chosen. This process ensures that the decision of the person is enduring, voluntary, and gives a crisp clear guidance about the way by which medical workers can support the person in assisted dying. This law also mentioned the varied range of protections to ensure the safely monitored and implemented voluntary assisted dying (Pesut et al., 2019a, pp. 152–167). The person who wants to access voluntary assisted dying can start the process by discussing with their healthcare worker about voluntary assisted dying. If the person is found eligible, then the process is again repeated with another doctor who carry out second assessment. They are needed to make sure that the person is aware about the available palliative care ways, and is making a fully informed decision. For further procedure, person needs to make written declaration about their end-of-life at their chosen time. Lastly, they administer the prescribed medication by themselves and end their life at their own decisions (Fujioka et al., 2018, pp. 1564-1576).
Nurses play a vital role in assisting a patient for their end-of-life care and voluntary assisted dying. They are the constant care providers to the patients, whether at hospital or residential care. Sometimes nurse will be in a dilemma situation where they could not differ the wishes of patient and their families, decision making of physicians, and legal considerations in regards to voluntary assisted dying (Ethics in practice, 2015, pp. 10-37). There are various ethical dilemmas that a nurse face in context of voluntary assisted dying, they are mentioned below:
Various countries follow laws and legislations to allow voluntary assisted dying. As mentioned earlier, nurses play vital role in providing care and support to the patient. In various countries it has been reported that they face legal dilemmas by following their laws and procedures while assisting the patient for voluntary assisted dying. These legal dilemmas are discussed below:
Major variations in legislations are not needed to achieve the goals to deal with the death. In spite of this, goals will be measured to make differences from a culture that looks death as life’s part, to a culture that accept death as a medical event. Challenges faced by the nurses during end-o-life care are not new, but they are becoming more complex by improper laws of voluntary assisting dying (Stokes, 2017, pp. 150-155).
These challenges and issues faced by the healthcare professionals, specially nurses can be managed by help of some strategies that the nurse must follow while assisting the patient for voluntary assisted dying. These strategies are mentioned below:
It is to be noted that nurses are able to strengthen the patient’s focus when further treatment is not commenced or applicable. Presence of nurses is paramount and extremely important while assisting the patient and provide care and support. Nurse can seek, advocate, and share to complete the wishes of the patients as well as their families at their best possible extent. The only treatment for a patient is care, thus nurse can respond the patient with effective communication, composure, and understanding. However, from this essay it is concluded that there are various legal and ethical dilemmas that nurse and health-care team face during end-of-life care. Effective strategies must be followed to maintain these legal and ethical issues of nurses. Thus, thesis statement can be restated as:
“there are several ethical and legal dilemmas of nurse during voluntary assisted dying, and mentioned strategies must be followed to manage them effectively”.
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