Are our Indian medical graduates equipped and informed to handle end of life dilemmas?

T S Gugapriya, N Vinay Kumar


Introduction: Euthanasia stands as the much debated, controversial and legally questionable end of life dilemma encountered by health care professionals globally. In India, currently active euthanasia has been debated for granting legal sanction. Yet, the health care professionals especially the medical graduates were not exposed to these ethical end of life dilemmas in their formative years. This scenario calls for an analysis into their understanding of this issue, how they want to handle such dilemmas and whether they had adequate exposure and training to handle such end of life dilemmas in their curriculum.

Methodology: A questionnaire with three segments of 9, 5and 6 questions each was administered to 100 medical graduates who were enrolled voluntarily for this study. The collected data were analysed by descriptive statistics.

Results: Only 53% showed awareness about euthanasia. Among them only 17% among were aware of physician assisted death. The third year graduates had finite idea about this concept among all years studied. The study found that the medical graduates wanted legalisation of euthanasia. Only 37% opined that if legalised they might administer if needed on their patients. Personal belief was cited as the primary reason for hesitancy to administer euthanasia. Less than 50% only were aware of right of the patient to decide to have euthanasia. Majority reported that the duration allotted for formal teaching of these were minimal and restricted to only second professional year.

Conclusion: End of life ethical dilemmas do exist and this study pointed the clear gap in understanding, implementation of medical graduates about these concepts. The study stresses the need for exposing the medical graduates to these bioethical concepts in their curriculum in a more active way.

Keywords: Euthanasia, Physician assisted death.

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