BackgroundThe Netherlands is one of the few countries where euthanasia is legal under strict conditions. This study investigates whether Dutch newspaper articles use the term ‘euthanasia’ according to the legal definition and determines what arguments for and against euthanasia they contain.MethodsWe did an electronic search of seven Dutch national newspapers between January 2009 and May 2010 and conducted a content analysis.ResultsOf the 284 articles containing the term ‘euthanasia’, 24% referred to practices outside the scope of the law, mostly relating to (...) the forgoing of life-prolonging treatments and assistance in suicide by others than physicians. Of the articles with euthanasia as the main topic, 36% described euthanasia in the context of a terminally ill patient, 24% for older persons, 16% for persons with dementia, and 9% for persons with a psychiatric disorder. The most frequent arguments for euthanasia included the importance of self-determination and the fact that euthanasia contributes to a good death. The most frequent arguments opposing euthanasia were that suffering should instead be alleviated by better care, that providing euthanasia can be disturbing, and that society should protect the vulnerable.ConclusionsOf the newspaper articles, 24% uses the term ‘euthanasia’ for practices that are outside the scope of the euthanasia law. Typically, the more unusual cases are discussed. This might lead to misunderstandings between citizens and physicians. Despite the Dutch legalisation of euthanasia, the debate about its acceptability and boundaries is ongoing and both sides of the debate are clearly represented. (shrink)
It is often argued that clinical research should not violate the Kantian principle that people must not be used merely as a means for the purposes of others. At first sight, the practice of clinical research itself, however, seems to violate precisely this principle: clinical research is often beneficial to future people rather than to participants; even if participants benefit, all things considered, they are exposed to discomforts which are absent both in regular care for their diseases and in other (...) areas of daily life. Therefore, in this paper we will consider whether people are used merely as a means by being enrolled in clinical research. On the basis of recent studies of Kantian scholars we will argue that clinical research is compatible with the Kantian principle if the conditions of possible consent and end-sharing have been met. Participants are not used merely as a means if they have sufficient reasons to consent to being enrolled in clinical research and can share the ends of the researchers who use them. Moreover, we will claim that even if people are used merely as a means by participating in clinical research, it may not always be morally wrong to use them in this way. (shrink)
During the past decennium, one of the main issues discussed in research ethics has been focused on the care that should be provided to the control group in a clinical trial. This discussion is also called the standard of care debate . Current international research ethics guidelines contain a wide variety of standards for the standard of care—including the provision of the highest attainable, the best available, the best current, a proven , and an established effective treatment. In this article, (...) we systematically review the currently used standards and argue that none of the current standards is adequate to serve as a universal standard for the standard of care. Alex London has made a substantial proposal for a universal standard, but universally adopting his standard is problematic. In this article, we propose a revised version of London's standard. (shrink)
Modern medicine provides unprecedented opportunities in diagnostics and treatment. However, in some situations at the end of a patient’s life, many physicians refrain from using all possible measures to prolong life. We studied the incidence of different types of treatment withheld or withdrawn in 6 European countries and analyzed the main background characteristics.
In this article ethical issues are discussed which play a role in pharmacogenetics. Developments in pharmacogenetics have a large impact on many different practices such as clinical trials, the practice of medicine and society at large. In clinical trials, questions rise regarding the exclusion of genetic subgroups that may be non- or poor-responders to the experimental drug. Also, the question is asked how pharmaceutical companies should deal with their growing knowledge about the relations between genetic variation and adverse effects. Moreover, (...) pharmacogenetics may provide disease-specific predictive information which may have a significant impact on the relations between physicians, patients and their relatives in the practice of medicine. Here, issues also arise regarding responsibility of patients and physicians for health and disease. In the society at large, the high costs of new pharmacogenetic possibilities lead to questions concerning solidarity and fair distribution on a national as well as an international level. It is concluded that in the near future, ethical research should be focused on the themes responsibility, inclusion and exclusion and global justice. (shrink)