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Sedation for Refractory Symptoms 

Sedation for Refractory Symptoms
Chapter:
Sedation for Refractory Symptoms
Author(s):

Chandana Banerjee

, and Bonnie Freeman

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190862374.003.0027
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date: 18 October 2019

Palliative sedation is an end-of-life comfort measure often misunderstood by both families and healthcare providers. Its use can vary from a short respite from pain to a continuous and deep sedation that is maintained until death. Either way, it involves an elective choice. This chapter focuses on deep sedation that does not cause respiratory arrest but that renders a patient unresponsive to verbal and tactile stimuli. With deep sedation, the patient is prevented from eating, drinking, and interacting with loved ones. As a result, deep sedation can become an ethical, social, and moral issue for both family and healthcare staff, as it may accelerate the dying process by causing dehydration, starvation, and overmedication. It is for these reasons that some individuals believe palliative sedation to be nothing more than “slow euthanasia.” This chapter will address the ethical and symptomatic issues associated with deep sedation for the dying.

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