End of Life Medical Ethics Literature Review essay

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One of the most sensitive problems in the entire healthcare system is the end of a\a patient’s life. Unfortunately, every human being is not an elf from the Tolkien’s “Lord of The Rings”. We are not immortal. Naturally, sooner or later every one of us will appear on the death bed and this will be no longer the question of the proficiency and expertise of the physicians, it will be the matter of their ethics (Epstein, 2007).

A plenty of various articles, even books and Ph.D. dissertations have been written by the scholarly community on this subject of particular importance.  Having referred to the recently published literature on this point, it became evident that almost every printed source (for instance The Politics of Difference in Medical Research written by Steven Epstein and published by the Chicago University in 2009)  refers to the article called End of Life Care: An Ethical Review , published by the Center for Bioethics of University of Minnesota in 2009. This article is considered as one of the fundamental and informative sources on this subject as it is concise in its nature and effectively summarized the major points of the problem, accumulating the experience of both the physicians of the United States of America and their international colleagues.                                                                                                                                             

In order to find this article I used Google Scholar searching system. Naturally, some scholars vigorously propose not to use Google searching tools, because they often procure results of precarious credibility ( Beaucamp, Childress, 2007). However, I intentionally opted for this searching machine, because currently there is no available substantial proof that this system lacks scientific credibility. I inserted several key words to the searching machine (“End of life care ethics”, “ethics, end of life”, “medical ethics, patient’s death”, etc.).  And the most popular result was the aforementioned publication of the University of Minnesota. I have decided on this very article because if it is reported to be the most popular paper by Google Scholar it signifies that this article is numerously cited in other scientific sources.  When different key words were entered into the system, different articles and books appeared in the results section. However, only this article was indicated by the mechanism each time I commenced a new search.

However, I did pay attention to other articles too.  But even the table of contents of the article in question happened to me the most informative and seemed to cover every aspect of the process of transition to another world, and the way it shall be treated by the medical workers. It is relevant for the medical practitioners due to the fact that it provides an informative insight into the common approaches that are ubiquitously used by the most qualified healthcare professionals around the world. Therefore, even the beginning doctors at the very outset of their careers may extensively recourse to the experience accumulated by the sophisticated professionals.  It is useful for the scholarly community as well, as it provides grounds for discussion on such objectionable issues like the moment of the death and the euthanasia (Epstein, 2007).  The authors question whether these points are consistent with the medical ethics opened.

The most relevant sections of the article deal with the issues of the common approaches which are currently employed by the practitioners and their reasonableness and with the ethical challenges faced by them, e.g. whether the patient shall be told that his chances for survival are absent.  The answers given in this article are among the most informative, substantiated and therefore valuable for the community. The authors also raised the issue of the determination of the death and provided the description of the common techniques used to find out whether someone has passed away or not.

As far the most relevant points for the practice and the theory are concerned, the most apt are those that cover the aspects of death determination, the treatment of the patient in during the latest minutes of his life and the issue of the medical assistance to cease the life (the so-called process of euthanasia).                                                                                                                              

The authors of the article purposefully accentuate the fact that various jurisdictions give various approaches to define that the person is dead. The most frequently encountered version of the death noting death is that a person must be declared dead officially when his central nervous system is no longer functioning. With the ascertaining of this fact, the physicians are free to turn off the life-support facilities. In this article, the authors provide the cons and process charter of this approach.                                                                                                                                                      

Another aspect of the article worth being highlighted is that the authors provide effective counseling on how the moribund patient shall be treated. In particular, the article focuses on what topics shall be covered with him, whether religion shall be accentuated and whether the dying person shall be notified that he will pass away soon.                                                                     The last but not the least is issue euthanasia, which is currently illegal in many countries (Esptein,2007).  The authors question the validity of such a restraint, because it is considerably disputable what is more human, aspiring to prolong the life of the agonizing person to the very utmost, or to cease the unbearable pain. Argument for and against have been raised in that section of the article 

Overall, this article is the most informative one on this sensitive element of the medical practice. It must be recommended to both practicing physicians and scholars and special accent shall be made on the above emphasized three aspects thereto.

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