Continuous Deep Sedation at the End of Life and the ‘Natural Death’ Hypothesis

8 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2012

See all articles by Kasper Raus

Kasper Raus

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Sigrid Sterckx

Ghent University

Freddy Mortier

Ghent University - Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences

Date Written: July 2012

Abstract

Surveys in different countries (e.g. the UK, Belgium and The Netherlands) show a marked recent increase in the incidence of continuous deep sedation at the end of life (CDS). Several hypotheses can be formulated to explain the increasing performance of this practice. In this paper we focus on what we call the ‘natural death’ hypothesis, i.e. the hypothesis that acceptance of CDS has spread rapidly because death after CDS can be perceived as a ‘natural’ death by medical practitioners, patients' relatives and patients. We attempt to show that the label ‘natural’ cannot be unproblematically applied to the nature of this end‐of‐life practice. We argue that the labeling of death following CDS as ‘natural’ death is related to a complex set of mechanisms which facilitate the use of this practice. However, our criticism does not preclude the view that CDS may be clinically and ethically justified in many cases.

Keywords: continuous deep sedation, ‘natural’ death, ethics, end‐of‐life decision making

Suggested Citation

Raus, Kasper and Sterckx, Sigrid and Mortier, Freddy, Continuous Deep Sedation at the End of Life and the ‘Natural Death’ Hypothesis (July 2012). Bioethics, Vol. 26, Issue 6, pp. 329-336, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2084038 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01861.x

Kasper Raus (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Sigrid Sterckx

Ghent University ( email )

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

Freddy Mortier

Ghent University - Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences ( email )

Ghent, 9000
Belgium
32-9-2644104 (Phone)
32-9-2644187 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ugent.be/portal/people?rugid=801000715635

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