A medical ethics group in Canada is trying to clarify the guidelines for giving dying patients pain relief. Most people dread the prospect of dying in pain, more than death itself. But sometimes doctors hesitate to give the amount of painkiller needed for fear of accelerating the patient's death. They worry that they could be accused of euthanasia and so a patient may suffer unnecessarily.
Researchers at the University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics now suggest that patients be given more pain relief if they need it, even if the drugs do hasten death. They want to clarify the borderline between palliative care, which is legal, and euthanasia, in the patient's interest.
Researcher say that it might be wrong, to assume that treating pain will always bring death quicker. In fact, untreated pain makes the patient worse, and it is good medical practice to do everything possible to relieve it. It's to be hoped that others will adopt the Toronto guidelines - so that no-one ever has to die in pain.