I'd like more information about euthanasia

The situation
The patient makes a direct request for information about euthanasia.

Communication issues
There has been a great deal of public discussion about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In most parts of the world these actions remain illegal but we still need to be able to discuss the topic if a patient raises it.

I'd like more information about euthanasiaRequests for assistance in dying are not common but do occur. In some cases, patients who want their lives ended prematurely suffer from inadequate symptom management or a sense of a loss of control over their lives or not wanting to be a burden to their families. Some do not want to experience the indignity of illness.

An additional important problem is clinical depression which may increase patient hopelessness, guilt and helplessness. All of these factors need to be explored in assessing the patient's request.

What to watch for
The physician could have provided a direct, subject-ending response to the patient's request for information. Instead he explored to find out if there were underlying issues that could be addressed.

Watch for the use of techniques--such as repetition-that are useful in helping the patient elaborate his underlying concerns.

View Vignette: I'd Like More Information About Euthanasia (9:04)
Pearls & Pitfalls: Expert Comment (2:53)


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