Causation, Intention, and Active Euthanasia

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 15 (1):71-80 (2006)
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Mr. Paul Mills suffered from cancer of the esophagus. Three major surgeries were unsuccessful in correcting the problem, and other treatment methods likewise failed. His condition deteriorated to the point where there was no longer any hope of recovery. Dr. Morrison, who was Mr. Mills's intensive care physician at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, and Mr. Mills's family agreed that active life support should be discontinued. Dr. Morrison then removed Mr. Mills's ventilator. To everyone's surprise, and dismay, Mr. Mills did not die. He continued to breathe spontaneously and started to show signs of distress. Dr. Morrison increased the dosage of morphine, to no effect. She increased it again to the point where death could reasonably be expected to occur; signs of distress continued. Dr. Morrison at this point administered a dose of potassium chloride and Mr. Mills died.



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