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Removing Life Support



Removing Life Support

Physician-assisted Suicide (PSD) has been an issue of considerable contention over the

past years. It risks jeopardizing the careers of the medical professionals (Silvers, Rhodes, &

Battin, 2015). The reason for this is because it questions the rights of the medical professionals

including physicians when they accept to perform assisted deaths to patients having grave pain

conditions. Although some argue that the physician-assisted suicide is ethical since the decision

to carry out this practice wholly depends on the patient, most states have held the practice as an

illegality. Further, some professional organizations abhor the practice with reason that it seeks to

reduce the profession into being used to justify homicides and murder (Quill, Back, & Block,

2016). Such professional bodies include the American Medical Association. Hence, this stands to

a large extent have hindered the physicians and other medical professionals from carrying out

this practice.

Furthermore, although the decisions to remove the life support machine off the patient

should be entirely a family decision, the physicians risk being charged with murder in a court of

law (Quill, Back, & Block, 2016). Taking an instance of the case study scenario of Barber v.

Superior Court66, the two physicians were charged with the crimes of conspiracy to commit

murder and murder of the patient. It was said that the physicians failed to provide condition

intravenous lines. The patient had advised his family of his need not to be under the support of

the machine. Consequently, the patient's family consisting of a wife and eight children advised

the physicians accordingly. Hence, the physicians followed the wishes of the patient and

removed the life support hence eventually leading to the death of the patient. Regardless of this

decision coming from the patient himself, the physicians were charged in a court of law with

murder and conspiracy to commit murder. However, later this case was dismissed.

Impact of removing life support

The practice of removing the life support system of the patient violates the ethical code of

conduct of the medical profession (Landry, Foreman, & Kekewich, 2015). Consequently, it

undermines the integrity of the medical profession. Hence, the practice of removing the patient

from a life support machine can be used as a mere excuse for justifying murder. Therefore, its

acceptance in the society can lead to the loss of moral values, legality, and integrity among the

medical professionals. Many of these personnel stand a chance to use this practice to justify their

reckless dealings with the patients. Hence, the entire medical profession is likely to undergo


Moreover, the practice of the removing life support system from a patient puts medical

professionals in a dilemma of choosing between the patient's will and the integrity of the

profession (Galishoff, 2016). Hence, in many cases, the medical practitioners are left with a

feeling of guilt for either of the decision taken. As a result, this position hampers the

effectiveness of the medical practitioners in the subsequent duties. Hence, the practice of

removing life support from the patient has a great potential of affecting the reliability of the

medical providers.

The practice of removing the life support system from a patient who is in too much pain

needs to change. As much as the decision to undertake this action should emanate from the

patient, the physician attending to this patient should also first consent to this move. Otherwise,

another physician that is comfortable with the practice should come in to undertake this



Galishoff, M. L. (2016). Responding to a Request for Physician-Assisted Death. Jama, 315(21),


Landry, J. T., Foreman, T., & Kekewich, M. (2015). Ethical considerations in the regulation of
euthanasia and physician-assisted death in Canada. Health policy, 119(11), 1490-1498.

Quill, T. E., Back, A. L., & Block, S. D. (2016). Responding to patients requesting physician-
assisted death: physician involvement at the very end of life. Jama, 315(3), 245-246.

Silvers, A., Rhodes, R., & Battin, M. P. (2015). Introduction. In Physician Assisted Suicide (pp.
1-8). Routledge.