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Type: Journal article
Title: Battlefield euthanasia - Courageous compassion or war crime?
Author: Neuhaus, S.
Citation: Medical Journal of Australia, 2011; 194(6):307-309
Publisher: Australasian Med Publ Co Ltd
Issue Date: 2011
ISSN: 0025-729X
Statement of
Susan J. Neuhaus
Abstract: Issues relating to voluntary euthanasia that are currently being debated by Australian society are distinctly different from those encountered by battlefield doctors. Doctors in war undertake to treat those affected by conflict; their participation in euthanasia challenges the profession’s definition of “duty of care”. Euthanasia must be distinguished from “triage” and medical withdrawal of care(which are decided within a medical facility where, although resources may be limited, comfort care can be provided in the face of treatment futility). Battlefield euthanasia is a decision made, often immediately after hostile action, in the face of apparently overwhelming injuries; there is often limited availability of pain relief, support systems or palliation that would be available in a civilian environment. The battlefield situation is further complicated by issues of personal danger, the immediacy of decision making and difficulties with distinguishing civilians from combatants. Regardless of the circumstances on a battlefield, doctors, whether they are civilians or members of a defence force, are subject to the laws of armed conflict, the special provisions of the Geneva Conventions and the ethical codes of the medical profession.
Keywords: Humans
Euthanasia, Active
Attitude of Health Personnel
Military Medicine
War Crimes
Liability, Legal
Conflict of Interest
Practice Patterns, Physicians'
Rights: Copyright status unknown
DOI: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb02980.x
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 5
Surgery publications

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