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ETHICS IN MEDICINE   University of Washington School of Medicine

Physician Aid-in-Dying:
Case 1 Discussion

The request for a specific quantity of a specific barbiturate suggests that this patient is contemplating suicide. This concern should be addressed explicitly with the patient. His sleep pattern (early morning awakening) and lack of interest in previously enjoyable pastimes (anhedonia) suggest major depression. This should be fully evaluated and treated. In addition, pain management and long term care options should be fully revisited in a patient with complaints such as his.

Even if the patient were fully competent, most proponents of PAD would object to aiding his suicide as he is not terminally ill. This said, rheumatoid arthritis can be a painful and debilitating chronic condition and it is unclear whether there is any relevant ethical or legal distinction between such a patient and one who is terminally ill.

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