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Content of health status reports of people seeking assisted suicide: a qualitative analysis.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21246400     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Two right-to-die organisations offer assisted suicide in Switzerland. The specific legal situation allows assistance to Swiss and foreign citizens. Both organisations require a report of the person's health status before considering assistance. This qualitative study explored these reports filed to legal authorities after the deaths of individuals in the area of Zurich. Health status reports in the legal medical dossiers of the deceased were analysed using content analysis and Grounded Theory. From 421 cases of assisted suicide (2001-2004), 350 reports on health status were filed. Many cases contained diagnosis lists only. Other reports had more elaborate reports revealing that some physicians were aware about the patient's death wish and the intention to solicit assisted suicide. Physicians' attitudes ranged from neutral to rather depreciative. Few physicians openly referred the patient to the organisations and supported the patient's request by highlighting a history of suffering as well as reporting understanding and agreement with the patient's wish to hasten death. In the health status reports five categories could be identified. Some files revealed that physicians were aware of the death wish. The knowledge and recognition of the patient's death wish varied from no apparent awareness to strongly supportive. This variety might be due to difficulties to discuss the death wish with patients, but might also reflect the challenge to avoid legal prosecution in the country of origin. To require comparable health status reports as requirements for the right-to-die organisations might be difficult to pursue.
Authors:
Lorenz Imhof; Georg Bosshard; Susanne Fischer; Romy Mahrer-Imhof
Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2011-1-19
Journal Detail:
Title:  Medicine, health care, and philosophy     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1572-8633     ISO Abbreviation:  -     Publication Date:  2011 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-1-19     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9815900     Medline TA:  Med Health Care Philos     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Affiliation:
Institute of Nursing, School of Health Professions, Zurich University of Applied Science (ZHAW), Winterthur, Switzerland, imhl@zhaw.ch.
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