Balancing the many aspects of the ethical endings debate

The public debate on end-of-life ethics is (in the main) focussed on what’s being described as a personal choice issue.

The public debate on end-of-life ethics is (in the main) focussed on what’s being described as a personal choice issue. When and how one becomes involved in making decisions that can have an immediate effect on ones ability to continue living, breathing and functioning in human community.

While the courts and the various interested parties weigh in on that very important and necessary conversation, it is far from the only ethical consideration we will face as we transition out of life ourselves; are present to the transition of family members; or act as care-givers during the time of transition we know as dying, or end-of-life.

We will, and do, come into points of convergence at the end-of-life, points that concern conflicting values; differing cultural mores; legal principles; institutional policies; the goals of treatment and the various needs of the people and organizations involved.

As those convergences come into being, we can benefit greatly from a good grounding in a sound decision making process.

It helps if we have a basic understanding of ethical principles (do no harm; what is the course of most benefit to the patient?; how do we allow for autonomy, justice and fidelity in the course of patient care?).

It is important that we are familiar with policies and structures put in place by care providers that will help us resolve ethical dilemmas, and the voices of patients and those who speak for them must be part of the process. But who decides if a matter is an ethical dilemma or not?

Patients and their families have a great deal to say and offer, especially if they are given information in a manner that meets their needs.

Sometimes patient and family decisions conflict with the ethical/legal responsibilities of the wider social system. How do we make choices that honour those decisions while upholding the needs of society at large?

How can we, as patients (and we will all be patients one day) help physicians and family members know our wishes and feel supported in abiding by them? How can we ensure that they are not open to action in our courts?

When we have been clear about our wishes, how do health-care providers act upon them? What medications and treatments are appropriate to the goal of neither hastening nor unnaturally delaying death?

How do we impart, receive and retain information as either health-care providers, patients or their spokespersons about the choices available and the potential effects they might have?

How do organizations support staff who may experience moral anguish as they administer or do not administer treatment in accordance with the wishes of the patient?

As you can see, there are a number of ethical issues at the end-of-life. Our local hospice society is pleased to be part of the conversation. This month, we explored these and other topics with members of our community. For information on upcoming conversations, please call the Greater Trail Hospice Society offices at: 250 364 6204 or at info@trailhospice.org.

Just Posted

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read