Definition Rewrite: Nina

Distinguishing Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide

When speaking of incurable diseases and the suffering of patients with mental disorders, two options are made available. The first being euthanasia, the second being physician assisted suicide. Euthanasia is a method of the painless killing of a patient who is suffering a painful or incurable disease. The procedure is take place is a hospitable area and the patient is instructed by doctors and other medical professionals of the results of the procedure. In physician assisted suicide, if approved by a doctor and several other medical professionals, a patient does not necessarily have to suffer from an incurable disease to have approval of participating in the procedure.

Next, the biggest difference is the process of which both procedures occur. In euthanasia, once the patient is diagnosed with the terminal disease, if the doctor suggests or offers euthanasia as an alternative from suffering, the patient will make their decision. If the patient decides to prolong the procedure, he or she will than have to inform their family and complete counseling following up to the procedure. Then, the day of the procedure a drug know as pentobarbital is given to the patient by either IV or injection. Pentobarbital eventually makes the patient unconscious in one to two minutes and shuts down the brain and heart functions.

Next, there are three forms of euthanasia, voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is done with the patients consent, and the patient understands his or her decision. Non-voluntary euthanasia is when the procedure is conducted on someone who was unable to consent due to their current health condition. In that scenario, another appropriate person, on the patients behalf can make the decision. Lastly, involuntary euthanasia is when the patient or a person is able to give consent but doesn’t and is forced to go through the procedure against their will.

To complete the procedure, there are two options the patient has active and passive. Passive euthanasia is when a medical professional offers strong doses of medication which will eventually become toxic to the patient. Active euthanasia is the use of a lethal substance to end a patients life. Active euthanasia is commonly argued and countered against moral, ethical, and religious reasoning.

On the other hand, in assisted suicide is more self reliant procedure. An individual will be administered a strong prescription of drugs.The patient has to sign a total of six to seven times a consent form for the procedure from the day they sign for the procedure to the day of. The reason for many signatures is so the patient doesn’t feel as though they have to proceed in the operation after changing his or her mind. Alongside the paper work, yet another form is asked to be signed 48 hours prior to the operation. Next, the day of the procedure the participant is given a bottle of prescription pills authorized by a doctor. With a physician alongside him or her, the participant is instructed to take the pills which will slowly put the patient into a deep coma. The patient is allowed to decide when he or she is ready to take the prescription drug.

Another means of difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is the state of where each procedure can be performed. Active human euthanasia is legal outside the U.S in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Columbia, and Canada. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. In the U.S, assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Hawaii, Colorado, and California.

In the U.S, the states that allow physician assisted suicide have what is called a Death by Dignity law. This law allows terminally ill, qualified adults voluntarily request and receive a prescription drug to hasten their death. One of the most important elements when discussing assisted suicide is the state of mind the patient is in when making the decision. All states that have an active Death with Dignity law require that the patient has no history of extreme mental illness and is competent to make decisions. Though many who believe this counters the right to choose death at your own call, physicians and other medical professionals would not want patients applying for assisted suicide based on a drive of emotions.


Asch, D. A. (2017, May 23). The Role of Critical Care Nurses in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide | NEJM. Retrieved from

How to Access and Use Death with Dignity Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Nordqvist, C. (2018, December 17). Euthanasia and assisted suicide: What are they and what do they mean? Retrieved from

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