Vets, Pets, Aid in Dying and Euthanasia

Sep 29, 2015 | 0 comments

Basset HoundAccording to a recent article in The Washington Post, veterinarians who euthanize pets suffer a psychological toll as they witness the emotional reactions of pet parents and put long-time patients to sleep.

I couldn’t help but think of physician aid in dying for those humans with terminal illnesses at end-of-life.

From the article:

Veterinarians face unique stressors compared with any other career, even within the medical field. It’s considered the only medical profession in which killing your patient is not only acceptable, but also occasionally encouraged as the best possible resolution to alleviate suffering. The term euthanasia is derived from the Greek words “eu,” meaning good, and “thanatos,” meaning death.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that veterinarians experience suicidal thoughts at a significantly higher rate than the average population.

The CDC study found that among 10,000 veterinarians who took part in a 2014 survey, 14 percent of men and 19 percent of women had considered suicide since leaving school, which is three times the national average.

In response, veterinary schools across the country are changing how euthanasia is taught in classrooms by emphasizing ways to cope emotionally, including grieving alongside clients in their anguish.

Read the full article.

Veterinarians are empowered to humanely relieve the suffering of their patients, who happen to be dogs, cats and other animals. Yet humans who are suffering with terminal illnesses have to “tough it out” until their bodies give out. How humane is that?

Kudos to those states that are enacting Death with Dignity laws. New Mexico’s overturned ruling on physician aid in dying will be considered by the state’s Supreme Court on October 26. That case will decide whether a good death will be available statewide. What do you think about the prospect?

A Good Goodbye