Physician-Assisted Suicide and Legal Issues

Research reveals that in many nations physician-assisted suicide is not permitted by law and such act has been categorized to be criminal activities and if a nurse is found guilty he/she is liable to punishment. However, in the United States some states like Oregon State have legalized the practice of physician-assisted suicide. Further survey reveals that over the past there has been decisions arrived at in the courts of justice regarding physician-assisted suicide practices.

For instance; Compassion in Dying versus Washington case whereby the judges held that any person has a right to decide what is good for himself/herself including how and when to pass on. Another example is that of United States Supreme Court which states that there is no legitimate right to physician-assisted suicide; the Supreme Court further outlined a lawful difference between physical-assisted suicide and denial of treatment by the physicians. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court offered each and every state in the United States an opportunity to come up with the decision of whether to make legal Physician-assisted suicide or not (Burt, 2005).

Conclusion From this study it is indicated that nurses have a crucial role of determining the best drugs and dosages to be administered to the patients. Therefore nurses should be well trained and competent in order to have full knowledge on the variety of fatal drugs available for physician-assisted suicide practices. There is greater need for improvement in the patient care delivery for instance, patients always need attention in hospital to ensure there well being. Routine checks on the patients have also to be done in good time and the nurses involved need to record how the patients are faring on.

Nurses also do have a role of ensuring that their patient’s rights are not violated but protected; for instance the nurses should respect the decisions of the patients regarding the administering of physician-assisted suicide (Cherry and Jacob, 2008).


Bilsen JJR and Vander S (2004) Involvement of nurses in physician-assisted dying J Adv Nurse Pp 47: 583–91 Retrieved from www. ingentaconnect. com/content/bsc/jan/2004 Accessed on August 1, 2008 Burt R (2005). The Supreme Court speaks-not assisted suicide but a constitutional right To palliative care N Engl J Med. Pp 337:1234-6 Retrieved from

Cherry and Jacob (2008) contemporary nursing: issues, trends, and management. 4th Edition Mosby Elsevier Health Sciences Retrieved from www. amazon. com/Contemporary-Nursing-Issues-Trends-Management Accessed on August 1, 2008 DeBal N and De Beer T, et al (2006) involvement of nurses in caring for patients Requesting euthanasia in Flanders: a qualitative study Int journal Nurs Study Pp 43: 589–99 Retrieved from www. linkinghub. elsevier. com/retrieve/pii/S0020748905001665 Accessed on July 30, 2008 Gastmans C and VanNeste F (2004) Facing requests for euthanasia: a clinical practice Guideline J Med Ethics 30: 212–7