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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

versión On-line ISSN 1669-9106


GHERARDI, C. R.. Euthanasia. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2003, vol.63, n.1, pp. 63-69. ISSN 1669-9106.

Technological progress in medicine regarding the application of life-sustaining treatment in the critical patient and the cultural changes that have taken place in contemporary society with respect to the patients' right to decide over the end of their lives, demand the existence of a definition of euthanasia that will acknowledge this new scenario. The concept of euthanasia would be very specifically limited by the exclusion of so-called passive forms of euthanasia and of omission as a possible procedure to cause death and the need for the explicit request of the patient involved. Likewise, the definition of euthanasia should include a specific reference to the means through which death is to be achieved. Euthanasia would thus be defined basically as causing the death of a patient suffering from a mortal disease, upon his or her request and for his or her own benefit, by administering a toxic or poisonous substance in mortal doses. This restrictive definition would differentiate euthanasia from cases of refusal to receive treatment, even if death is the consequence of such refusal, and also from cases in which life-sustaining treatment is withheld or withdrawn to enable the occurrence of death.

Palabras clave : Euthanasia; Decisions at the end of the life; Withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment; Treatment refused; Bioethics; Critical care.

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