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Print version ISSN 0120-4157
On-line version ISSN 2590-7379


RUIZ, Álvaro. Right to die with dignity?. Biomédica [online]. 2008, vol.28, n.2, pp.191-194. ISSN 0120-4157.

The right to die with dignity is an ill-defined concept, with multiple, often inappropriate, interpretations. The current proposition is that the physician take full responsibility for protecting the patient’s rights, for ensuring a rational use of resources and for overseeing the decision-making process such that the information is adequate and the steps proportioned. This responsibility extends not only to the health status of the patient situation, to the patient’s prognosis, and to his/her expectations and wishes, but also to the benefits foreseen and to the cost-benefit ratio. Emphasis is placed on two aspects of this relationship. First, dignity can be interpreted in many ways and sometimes, in the name of dignity, the patient is exposed (or exposes him/herself) to suffering, pain and complications that can be avoided. Second, when no reasonable probability of survival is present and a better “quality of life” is impossible, efforts are better redirected to offering a better quality of death.

Keywords : right to die [ethics]; bioethics; patient rights; treatment refusal; terminal care; thanatology.

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