Ethics of crisis sedation: Questions of performance and consent

Nathan Emmerich*, Bert Gordijn

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper focuses on the practice of injecting patients who are dying with a relatively high dose of sedatives in response to a catastrophic event that will shortly precipitate death, something that we term 'crisis sedation.' We first present a confabulated case that illustrates the kind of events we have in mind, before offering a more detailed account of the practice. We then comment on some of the ethical issues that crisis sedation might raise. We identify the primary value of crisis sedation as allowing healthcare professionals to provide some degree of reassurance to patients, their families and the professionals who are caring for them. Next we focus on the issue of informed consent. Finally, we ask whether continuous deep sedation might be preferable to crisis sedation in scenarios where potential catastrophic events can be anticipated.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)339-345
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


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