Study shows that 12% of doctors in Malta had requests for euthanasia

A study published in the Medical Journal of Malta shows that slightly less than 12% of doctors have had requests for euthanasia. The study also shows that half the doctors who took part in this survey have agreed to intensify pain-killing medicine for those who are terminally ill, with the possibility for death to occur more quickly.  However, slightly more than 90% answered that they do not agree with euthanasia. The study, which was carried out among 350 doctors, concluded that 86% of those who answered cited religion as being very important when it came to the treatment given towards the end of a patient’s life.

42.9% agreed with the right of the patient to decide whether to continue with treatment towards the end of his life while  60.4% agreed that doctors should keep the protection of life as their main goal. 32.1% of the doctors said that they had withdraw or suspended treatment for these patients.  36.6% out of the remaining 67.9% said that they agreed with this practice. 50.3% said that they had intensified the use of medicine to help alleviate pain when a patient was dying while only 6% said that they had put their patients to sleep towards the end of their life.

In this study, the absolute majority of doctors said they were against euthanasia. They said that they were strongly guided by their religious beliefs on how to administer treatment to dying patients. However, the doctors are not avoiding the intensification of pain-killing medicine for terminally ill patients. In the study, it was also stated that there were some different views among those who are specialized in their field about the process which is used for those who are dying. It said that doctors need more guidelines, both legal and moral about this subject. In the absence of this, religion and life philosophy were being used as a guide in this difficult aspect of practicing their profession.