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Palliative sedation is a medical procedure of last resort, sometimes employed at the end of life to relieve unbearable suffering from symptoms that cannot be controlled by any other means. It involves the use of sedative medications in sufficient amounts to create a state of decreased awareness in the patient until a desired comfort level is achieved. At times, relief of symptoms is only achieved by inducing unconsciousness. This approach to palliation is not without controversy. Some view it as the equivalent of euthanasia or as an opportunity to hasten death. Others claim that it is increasingly being misused in palliative care and hospice settings in order to shorten patients' lives. This webinar examines legitimate indications and applications of palliative sedation from the perspective of the Catholic moral tradition.
Rev. Myles Sheehan, SJ, MD
New England Province of Jesuits