Objective: Many patients are admitted to the ICU at or near the end of their lives. Consequently, the increasingly common debate regarding physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia holds implications for the practice of critical care medicine. The objective of this article is to explore core ethical issues related to physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia from the perspective of healthcare professionals and ethicists on both sides of the debate. Synthesis: We identified four issues highlighting the key areas of ethical tension central to evaluating physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in medical practice: 1) the benefit or harm of death itself, 2) the relationship between physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia and withholding or withdrawing life support, 3) the morality of a physician deliberately causing death, and 4) the management of conscientious objection related to physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the critical care setting. We present areas of common ground and important unresolved differences. Conclusions: We reached differing positions on the first three core ethical questions and achieved unanimity on how critical care clinicians should manage conscientious objections related to physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The alternative positions presented in this article may serve to promote open and informed dialogue within the critical care community.

Additional Metadata
Keywords end of life care, ethics, euthanasia, suicide, assisted
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000001818, hdl.handle.net/1765/95564
Journal Critical Care Medicine
Citation
Goligher, E.C. (Ewan C.), Ely, E.W, Sulmasy, D.P. (Daniel P.), Bakker, J, Raphael, J. (John), Volandes, A.E. (Angelo E.), … Downar, J. (2017). Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the ICU: A dialogue on core ethical issues. Critical Care Medicine, 45(2), 149–155. doi:10.1097/CCM.0000000000001818