Types of Euthanasia You Should Know About

Although there are different types of euthanasia, they have some things in common. No matter what, it should always be done with compassion and understanding.
Types of Euthanasia You Should Know About

Last update: 08 May, 2021

Currently, we know euthanasia as an action or omission aimed at ending the life of incurable patients in a painless way.

It has this definition because health personnel do it, and they do it with compassion and a liberating intention.

In addition, euthanasia is sometimes called merciful end if death is the way to relieve a patient of pain, physical deformation, or painful old age.

However, if death is sought to free the family or society from the burden, it’s called eugenic, or economic or social euthanasia.

Types of euthanasia

A man sitting in a wheelchair.

Methods to administer it

  • Active euthanasia: deliberate action aimed at ending a life.
  • Passive euthanasia: omission of treatment that would sustain life in order to cause death.

Also, euthanasia can be classified as voluntary or involuntary, depending on whether the patient requests it or not.

Even with the consent of the victim, other people always perform euthanasia. For this reason, it’s sometimes considered a homicide (with certain distinct characteristics).

If the patient themself intentionally causes death, it’s then considered a type of suicide. On the other hand,  assisted suicide is when the doctor provides a lethal drug to the patient, but the patient administers it to themself.

What isn’t euthanasia

Applying drugs to alleviate pain or other symptoms in a terminal patient is not euthanasia, although this indirectly and inevitably shortens their lifespan. You should always be careful to make sure that you allow the patient to be able to act freely in accordance with their last will.

In addition, you need to get the patient’s consent if the medications cause drowsiness or loss of consciousness.

Withdrawing extraordinary or disproportionate means to artificially prolong the life of a terminally ill person isn’t euthanasia either. In this case, the action of killing and the possibility of a natural life aren’t there.

In fact, the doctor of the ethics committee of the hospital decides which means are proportionate and which are disproportionate for a patient. They will also take into account your specific circumstances.

Euthanasia today

However, there are a few different things that we think are ordinary or proportionate. For example, hydration and nutrition are considered minimal basic care.

Some call death “orthothanasia” in due course, without shortening life and without lengthening it unnecessarily through extra means.

In addition, this method is also known by the name “therapeutic cruelty” or “distanasia” and may even be illegal.

The “diagnosis of death” is an important moment.  Once someone calls the time of death, there can’t be euthanasia.

You may also be interested in: How to Help Your Child Cope with Death

This way, doctors may remove organs for transplants. However, they can do this after meeting certain legal requirements.

The irreversible end of brain functions and/or cardiorespiratory functions are enough criteria to confirm the time of death of a person.

Type of illness

The elderly are more at risk when it comes to coronavirus.

The type of patients that doctors may consider for euthanasia are those in a terminal situation. The term “incurable” refers to the inability to improve or overcome the disease.

A terminally ill patient is one where death is expected to be certain. In addition, it will happen relatively soon, up to six months, according to some authors.

Then, health experts will stop medical therapeutic efforts to focus on symptom relief, as well as support for the patient and the family.

Terminally ill patients are the main candidates for euthanasia. However, doctors may also consider curable patients in critical condition if they so choose.

Another concept is the persistent vegetative state (PVS). Patients in this state are also in the category of unable to cure. Although they are not necessarily terminal, they are patients with a permanent loss of consciousness, in an irreversible coma.

Types of euthanasia: A reality to be aware of

Despite the constant discussions and controversy about euthanasia, it’s a fact that in many countries around the world, it’s legal in certain circumstances. It’s an unavoidable reality, so it’s important to have some knowledge of this practice.

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