The impact of euthanasia on the nursing practice, norms, morals, and social values

When decisions regarding euthanasia are made, the physician holds the final responsibility. On the contrary, nurses might have had a chance to contribute their opinions during the decision-making process. However, in the end, nurses might be forced to execute orders that they are totally against (Schwarz, 1999). They are usually closer to patients and the sufferings they go through, in addition, they are closely confronted with the mourning and distress experienced by friends and family.

Nurses find themselves in dilemma and express the fear of having to make such a decision or shoulder such responsibilities. The nursing practice is impacted in that nurses consider their position to be vulnerable and they mostly feel that their opinions are overlooked. Euthanasia erodes social values, morals and norms in that people cease being human and can kill those they find to be burdens when terminally ill (Schwarz, 1999). It is very important that an agreement is reached during the process since it is very hard to start the mourning process if the patient’s decision is not accepted. The patient’s next of kin have peace of mind if they accept the patient’s decision. However, if they do not accept it, it cannot be performed since they have to continue with their lives.

Nurses have tensions when making the decision between accepting euthanasia and the negative repercussions it can have on the trusting link between patients and caregivers, in addition to the society (Schwarz, 1999). There are immense fears regarding death in the society as far as lack of control, loneliness, and inadequate pain management are concerned. The interplay of the various forms of fears makes nurses to need a truer values’ reflection in regard to euthanasia and the attitudes associated with it.

How the ethical principle/ theory is applied to euthanasia

During euthanasia, nurses and all medical practitioners are obligated to abide by the ethical principles; non maleficence, beneficence, fidelity, justice, and autonomy (Barcalow, 2010). During the entire procedure, the practitioner should ensure that he maintains trust with clients and does nothing to harm them. On the same note, the patient’s personal information should be kept confidential unless the patient wants it disclosed. Patients have the authority to make decisions regarding their own health. Therefore, the decisions the patents make should be obeyed during euthanasia if they have a sound mind (Barcalow, 2010). However, during the process, the patient should be provided with relevant and appropriate information so as to ensure that they make informed decisions.

There is a need to ensure that patients gain the relevant benefits during euthanasia. In this regard, the practitioner should ensure that the patient is given all the necessary assistance including transfusions and organ donations. On the same note, a practitioner should ensure that justice is a key ingredient during the process where all patients are treated equally regardless of their backgrounds.

In essence, the Hippocratic Oath is very significant during euthanasia and all practitioners should abide by it. It is important to respect the patient’s decisions while following the ethical principles.




Barcalow, E. (2010). Moral Philosophy: Theory and Issues. Wadsworth Publishing Company: California.

Schwarz, J. (1999). Assisted dying and nursing practice. J Nursing Scholarsh, 31: 367–75.


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