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date: 05 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines continuous sedation as a way to relieve unbearable suffering in patients at the end of life. After considering consensus and guidelines on continuous sedation, it looks at the debate over terminology and definition. It then discusses the practice of continuous sedation in various countries and how it is performed, along with the importance of patient consent and autonomy in all sedation guidelines. The chapter goes on to analyze some of the commonly invoked justifications for continuous sedation, including the doctrine of double effect, last resort and refractory suffering, autonomy and patient consent, and proportionality. It also reviews contentious issues raised by continuous sedation, such as whether it should be restricted to patients with a very short life expectancy, artificial nutrition and hydration, and existential or psychological suffering.

Keywords: continuous sedation, suffering, patients, end of life, patient consent, autonomy, double effect, last resort, proportionality, artificial nutrition and hydration

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