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Palliative Sedation for Existential Pain: An Ethical Analysis

Crenshaw, Jason RN, BSN, CHPN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: March-April 2009 - Volume 11 - Issue 2 - p 101-106
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0b013e31819984e9

Healthcare provides many ethical dilemmas and challenges for nurses attempting to individualize care for patients. One area of healthcare that has become a source of ethical controversy is the use of palliative sedation. The practice of palliative sedation is considered to be slow euthanasia or is compared to physician-assisted suicide by some healthcare professionals. While sedation was approved as a method to provide relief for dying patients experiencing refractory symptoms by the Supreme Court in 1997, its use continues to be a source of ethical distress among nurses.

Author Affiliation: Jason Crenshaw, RN, BSN, CHPN, Washburn University, Topeka, KS.

Address correspondence to Jason Crenshaw, RN, BSN, CHPN, Washburn University, Topeka, KS (

The author declares no conflict of interest.

© 2009 The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association