Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doctors' Own Fear Of Death Linked To Hastening Death Of Very Sick Newborns

Date:
February 16, 2007
Source:
BMJ Specialty Journals
Summary:
Doctors who fear their own death say they are more prepared than other doctors to hasten death in sick newborns for whom further medical treatment is considered futile, reveals research published ahead of print in the Fetal & Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Doctors who fear their own death say they are more prepared than other doctors to hasten death in sick newborns for whom further medical treatment is considered futile, reveals research published ahead of print in the Fetal & Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Related Articles


The findings are based on an anonymous survey of 138 doctors specialising in the care of sick newborns (neonatologists) across Australia and New Zealand.

The doctors were asked questions about their ethical practice and to complete the Multidimensional Fear of Death Scale (MFODS), which measures different facets of personal fear of death.

Of the 138 doctors contacted, 78 (56%) completed the questionnaire. Virtually all of them said they sometimes withheld or withdrew life-sustaining treatment in newborns with severe mental and/or physical disability and those for whom further medical treatment was considered to be "overly burdensome" or futile.

They said they used painkillers or sedatives in both situations to alleviate pain and suffering, but without intending to hasten death.

But one in three specialists was prepared to use painkillers or sedatives to relieve pain and suffering by intentionally hastening death in newborns with severe disability.

And more than three out of four were prepared to hasten death for this purpose in babies for whom further treatment was considered futile.

In this situation, they preferred to use painkillers or sedatives to hasten death rather than withhold minimal treatment, such as tube feeds or oxygen, in a bid to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering.

But one in five neonatologists said that hastening death in this context was unacceptable by either means.

There was a link between the neonatologists' personal fear of death and their ethical practice.

Doctors who said they were not prepared to hasten death had significantly less fear of the "dying process" and of "premature death" than those prepared to hasten death with painkillers or sedatives. But they had significantly more "fear of being destroyed."

The author suggests that doctors' fear of the dying process or of premature death may unconsciously motivate them to hasten a newborn's death in order to relieve their own death anxiety.

Similarly, those who fear being "destroyed" may not be prepared to hasten death, because of their own fears, even though this may be the most humane way to relieve a newborn's suffering.

In an accompanying editorial, Martin Ward Platt points out that the findings should not be interpreted as indicative of rampant euthanasia on neonatal units.

Rather, he says, the study shows that "In relation to neonatal death and dying, doctors' fear, or lack of it, matters. It matters because it can influence clinical judgements."

He adds: "Recognising this difference is an important aspect of self knowledge, and there is a case to be made for all of us to be more open about it."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ Specialty Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BMJ Specialty Journals. "Doctors' Own Fear Of Death Linked To Hastening Death Of Very Sick Newborns." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070206095602.htm>.
BMJ Specialty Journals. (2007, February 16). Doctors' Own Fear Of Death Linked To Hastening Death Of Very Sick Newborns. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070206095602.htm
BMJ Specialty Journals. "Doctors' Own Fear Of Death Linked To Hastening Death Of Very Sick Newborns." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070206095602.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins