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Palliative Sedation 

Palliative Sedation
Palliative Sedation

Robert C. Macauley

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date: 23 November 2020

Palliative sedation refers to lowering a patient’s level of consciousness so that she no longer suffers from intolerable and refractory symptoms. Some forms of palliative sedation are ethically uncontroversial, such as emergency or respite sedation. Continuous sedation to unconsciousness (CSU) is controversial in that a patient in such a state is unable to eat or drink and may not be able to protect her airway. Ethically relevant considerations include the inability to participate in subsequent decision-making, the uncertain quality of an unconscious life, and the impact on life expectancy (which is often misunderstood). Special cases of CSU for existential distress and in children demand in-depth analysis.

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