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Alt-Epping, Bernd; Schildmann, Eva; Weixler, Dietmar (2016): Palliative sedation and the ethical implications. A review. In: Onkologe, Vol. 22, No. 11: pp. 852-859
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Therapeutic (or palliative) sedation in the context of palliative medicine is the monitored use of medications intended to induce a state of decreased or absent awareness (unconsciousness) in order to relieve the burden of otherwise intractable suffering in a manner that is ethically acceptable to the patient, family and health-care providers. 'Ethical acceptability' of palliative sedation therapy depends on its clinical standards and organizational framework. For example in Belgium or in the Netherlands, certain types of palliative sedation have been used with the intention to hasten death, and palliative sedation is partly discussed in the context of euthanasia. This article offers an overview about terms, definitions, concepts and practical implications of palliative sedation therapy with special focus on existing guidelines and ethical issues that should be kept in mind when initiating this 'last resort' option of symptom control in palliative care.