Allowing natural death - whose decision counts?

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Should we have the right to make the decision on assisted dying when the time comes?  

The BMA’s decision in June this year to continue its opposition to assisted dying highlights the issues surrounding end of life medical treatment and management.

Interestingly, in the US where the division between those who support assisted dying and those ‘pro-life’ is particularly strong, those who believe in giving the patient more choice have come up with an interesting acronym, AND.

AND stands for Allow Natural Death, and there’s a view it will catch on more than the current phrase, Do Not Resuscitate (DNR).

“It’s only beginning to come to people’s attention,” said Ruth Wittman-Price, nursing department chair at Francis Marion University, who assessed use of the new term in a study in the journal Holistic Nursing Practice. “But a lot of changes in society start with a language change.

“The phrase ‘do not resuscitate’ signals an intent to withhold or refuse to do something. To ‘allow natural death,’ on the other hand, connotes permission.”

Christian Sinclair, associate medical director at Kansas City Hospice, sees the term catching on. “It doesn’t sound so overwhelming or scary.”

What starts in the US quickly cross the ‘pond’, so it could easily be adopted in the UK.

As a more positive way of describing how you wish to be treated, it will give impetus to the Dying Matters coalition’s goal of changing attitudes towards death, dying and bereavement.

Final Choices has created a Death Plan template which makes it easier for people to have a ‘good death’. It will encourage families and GPs to talk about death and to plan for it thus reducing the fear of the unknown and reducing the taboo that surrounds death. This is the place to put, Allow Natural Death, and a few phrases to describe what you mean by this phrase.

We only die once and, if possible, it should be the experience we want it to be. 

Tags: Hospice assisted dying Allow natural death Dying Matters assisted suicide

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