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Revista médica de Chile

versión impresa ISSN 0034-9887


BECA I, Juan Pablo; ORTIZ P, Armando  y  SOLAR P, Sebastián. The debate about the right to die. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2005, vol.133, n.5, pp.601-606. ISSN 0034-9887.

The Right to Die is a debatable issue and some basic notions need to be clarified to discuss it. Death needs to be recognized as part of human life. The goal of medicine is to avoid pain and alleviate suffering, to prevent premature death and when this is not possible, to let it occur peacefully. The concept of euthanasia is unclear, which increases the confusion on end-of-life topics. The term euthanasia should be used only when referring to medical acts performed to produce the patient's death, with the intention of terminating his/her suffering. It is what is usually called "active" euthanasia, which can be voluntary or involuntary. It is essential to understand the difference between producing and allowing death. This will permit timely decisions about limiting or withdrawing treatments, that can be disproportionate or that are only prolonging suffering. Limiting treatments does not mean to abandon the patient but rather to redefine his needs, such as pain treatment, prevention of complications, and relief of suffering. The ethic rationale for these decisions is the respect to the dignity of human life, and the estimation of proportionality or futility of each treatment. The physician's duty with the patient at the end of his life is to assist him in dying according to his values and to minimize his distress

Palabras clave : Ethic; Euthanasia, active; Euthanasia, passive; Right to die; Suicide, assisted.

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