Palliative Sedation in End-of-Life Care

Susan D. Bruce, RN, BSN, OCN; Cristina C. Hendrix, DNS, APRN-BC, GNP, FNP; Jennifer H. Gentry, RN, MSN, ANP, APRN-BC, PCM


Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. 2006;8(6):320-327. 

In This Article


Palliative sedation is recognized as a valid treatment approach to the relief of intractable or refractory symptoms and is therefore firmly within the realm of good, supportive palliative care and is not euthanasia.[26] Although it is sanctioned within our legal tenets, our professional position statements, and the core ethical principles of autonomy and beneficence as well as the doctrine of double effect and the principle of proportionality, considerable controversy surrounds its use. Nurses in hospice and palliative care need to have a basic understanding of what palliative sedation is and what it is not. Nurses play a critical role in symptom management for patients, and managing these symptoms at the end of life can be particularly challenging. By virtue of their role in the interdisciplinary care team, nurses are vital to facilitating a good death for these patients and their families. It is critical that nurses continue to advocate for their patients and provide education to other members of the healthcare team who are less knowledgeable about palliative sedation.


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