In Reply: When end-of-life care
surfaces on television, in the newspapers, or on the radio, 9 times out
of 10 the issue arises as "euthanasia" or "assisted suicide."
At the bedside, however, the primary concerns of dying patients are the
ones in our study—receiving adequate pain and symptom management,
avoiding inappropriate prolongation of dying, achieving a sense of
control, relieving burden, and strengthening relationships with loved
ones. In our study, which involved patients receiving dialysis
(n=48), people with HIV (n=40), and
residents of a long-term care facility (n=38),
euthanasia was mentioned by less than 5% of participants in each
group. Is it possible that the dramatic issue of euthanasia and
assisted suicide has obscured the more "mundane" personal issues
that are of primary concern to dying patients?