New guidelines on assisted dying

Terminally ill patients who wish to end their lives should have the option of being sedated until they die but only after other treatment options have been explored and ruled out, according to new guidelines from the Swedish Society of Medicine.

The society’s board on ethical issues announced the new guidelines on Monday saying that doctors should also get better at providing information about this option to the patients.

The issue of whether or not doctors should be allowed to help terminally ill patients to die has been debated since a 31-year-old woman wrote a letter to the National Board on Health and Welfare asking for permission to end her life. The woman suffered from a rare disease which gradually paralysed her. She had been on a respirator for several years before she wrote the letter.

The option to sedate a patient until he or she dies has so far been restricted to those suffering from severe forms of cancer but the society of medicine now wants the option to be available for all terminally ill patients who which to end their treatment.

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