Killing or allowing someone to die: a difference defined exclusively by the criteria of “terminal”? Making decisions regarding a patient’s death

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Federico Nicoli
Mario Picozzi


terminally ill, end of life, therapeutic alliance, proportionality, irreversibility


The aim of this research is to reply to some of the most important moral question: Is it “good” to hasten the patient’s death? In a situation of terminal illness the principle of proportionality seems too biased in favor of clinical data, but at the same time, the criterion of terminal represents a clinical condition which is necessary, but not sufficient to determine whether to withdraw or to withhold treatment. “Terminal” acquires a predominant position in the definition of the principle of proportionality: one wonders whether and under which conditions its definition is taken for granted. “Terminal” seems to be a diagnosis that offers certain guarantees, but which must not to be considered as final, since it can violate the patient’s right to autonomy. The question regarding good actions is substantial when one takes part in a relationship with a patient at the end of his life.
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