Palliative sedation (sedation to unconsciousness) as an option of last resort for intractable end-of-life distress has been the subject of ongoing discussion and debate as well as policy formulation. A particularly contentious issue has been whether some dying patients experience a form of intractable suffering not marked by physical symptoms that can reasonably be characterized as " existential" in nature and therefore not an acceptable indication for palliative sedation. Such is the position recently taken by the American Medical Association. In this essay we argue that such a stance reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of human suffering, particularly at the end of life, and may deprive some dying patients of an effective means of relieving their intractable terminal distress.
- End-of-Life care
- Palliative treatment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine