Should Euthanasia Be Considered Iatrogenic?

AMA J Ethics. 2017 Aug 1;19(8):802-814. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.8.msoc1-1708.


As more countries adopt laws and regulations concerning euthanasia, pediatric euthanasia has become an important topic of discussion. Conceptions of what constitutes harm to patients are fluid and highly dependent on a myriad of factors including, but not limited to, health care ethics, family values, and cultural context. Euthanasia could be viewed as iatrogenic insofar as it results in an outcome (death) that some might consider inherently negative. However, this perspective fails to acknowledge that death, the outcome of euthanasia, is not an inadvertent or preventable complication but rather the goal of the medical intervention. Conversely, the refusal to engage in the practice of euthanasia might be conceived as iatrogenic insofar as it might inadvertently prolong patient suffering. This article will explore cultural and social factors informing families', health care professionals', and society's views on pediatric euthanasia in selected countries.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Euthanasia / ethics*
  • Euthanasia / psychology
  • Family / psychology
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pediatrics*