Cohen, Joachim End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University, Brussels, Belgium.
Chambaere, Kenneth End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University, Brussels, Belgium.
Last reviewed:January 2019
- Etymology and history
- Legal status worldwide
- Safeguards and recommended drugs
- Ethical pros and cons
- Euthanasia practice in numbers
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
An active and intentional act or practice of putting to death, in a relatively painless way, of persons suffering severely from medical conditions that are incurable, untreatable, or irreversible. Euthanasia is an act by a person, usually a physician or other health care provider, actively and intentionally to end another person's life by some medical means, such as a lethal injection, at that person's explicit request (see illustration). Notably, the definition of euthanasia excludes passive decisions, such as withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatments, which have often been termed cases of passive euthanasia; however, this is a misnomer. Similarly, nonvoluntary euthanasia and involuntary euthanasia, which are often-used terms for the act of administering lethal drugs without the patient's explicit request, constitute misnomers. By definition, euthanasia is active and voluntary. In addition, it is an act or practice that raises bioethical and legal issues. See also: Bioethics; Critical care medicine; Death; Disease; Medicine
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