Peter T. Hetzler III and Lydia S. Dugdale
AMA Journal of Ethics
Before antibiotics, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and life-sustaining technologies, humans had little choice about the timing and manner of their deaths. Today, the medicalization of death has enabled patients to delay death, prolonging their living and dying. New technology, the influence of the media, and medical professionals themselves have together transformed dying from a natural part of the human experience into a medical crisis from which a patient must be rescued, often through the aggressive extension of life or through its premature termination. In this paper, we examine problematic forms of rescue medicine and suggest the need to rethink medicalized dying within the context of medicine’s orientation to health and wholeness.
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