The usual technique of euthanasia is when a doctor administers a lethal injection to a patient. However, when a doctor withdraws life-sustaining nutrition and fluid from a comatose or sedated patient, is this not a form of slow euthanasia?
A special scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) protocols, is designed to improve comfort and care at the end of life. However, as the article reports, for some patients, being put on this “pathway” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of death because the subsequent removal of basic sustenance contributes to or causes early death. This coupling of sedation to removal of food and fluids is often referred to as “terminal sedation”. But what exactly does this mean? It is a world away from merely sedating someone experiencing unbearable pain — that is, using sedation solely as a palliative tool with a clear palliative intention to relieve someone’s pain and symptoms. This is often used to give a patient respite from pain in circumstances where their underlying illness is not yet terminal.