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Deep Sedation Becoming More Common for Dying Patients in Holland
Date:3/21/2008

ssness that would otherwise be uncontrolled," he said.

In the United States, where euthanasia is not legal, deep sedation is used as a last resort when pain or discomfort is no longer controllable by other methods, Byock said. The decision to use deep sedation is also made in consultation with the patient or the family, he added.

"Even in the United States, there is concern that these practices [deep sedation] not be used too readily as a substitute for the meticulous, painstaking treatment of people's physical distress," Byock said. "There is no distress you're going to have that I cannot alleviate with medications, but we don't want that to be a substitute for good, comprehensive medical care."

More information

For more on end-of-life care, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.



SOURCES: Judith Rietjens, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Ira Byock, M.D., director, palliative medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, N.H.; March 1, 2008, online British Medical Journal


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