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Double-effect is a principle applied in a situation where an action taken for a good course may have a bad outcome which was not intended. Physicians use this principle when administering the pain relieving medication to their patients who are in great pain. However critics argue that every body is responsible for their actions hence the physicians are expected to take responsibility incases where death occurs although they did not intend to kill. However, patients can request the doctors to assist them to commit suicide but it is the responsibility of the doctors to advise them on the consequences of the drugs to be administered.
Double-effect is a principle applied when physicians want to administer medication to reduce or end pain in a patient under their care which may have a side effect of death. This principle suggests that anything done with a good intention may have a bad outcome which was not expected. Physicians apply this principle to support their action in assisting or hastening death to their patient who are in great pain. This principle justifies doctor’s action of administering pain relieving medicine because his main intention is not to kill but to relive pain (Raymond G, F and Christopher H, W 2003).
In this case of Dr Robinson who is administering medication to Mr. Mill a pancreatic cancer patient who is at his last stage, he is justified to administer morphine though it might reduce his life span. He is justified to do this as the patient is in so much pain that he cannot speak and this could eventually lead to death if the pain is not relieved. Dr Robinson can resort reducing the dosage if he is in doubt of taking his action as his major intention is not to kill but relieve the patient off his pain. However double effect results to an under treatment to the cancer patients.
Double effect principle is justifiable in cases where the action taken is morally accepted. Application of the double effect rule is not always intended to kill as it is clear more lives have been saved and less lost thus justifying this principle (Cavanaugh T, A 2006). Currently, there are many reports that to prove that pain relieving medication does not automatically lead to death. In addition, the pain drugs manufacturers are known to be neutral when manufacturing these pain reducing drugs and no manufacturer can invest in producing drugs for killing purpose but to save lives. One case to justify this case is the case of abortion of fetus where the heath of the mother is at risk. Here the side effect of saving the life of the mother is the death of the fetus.
However, critics argue that the double-effect rule application by physicians is solely made to kill. They argue that the physicians are aware of the consequences of their actions thus they have an option not administer the pain relieving drugs thus evading the automatically bad ending of their actions. They argue that the any action that has a high probability of a bad end is an action that should be avoided at all costs as there is no an assurance that the action will turn out good. Critics also argue that everybody is responsible for their actions and thus the physicians are responsible for the occurrence of death to their patients as they have a moral obligation to decide on the action which suits them.
This issue concerning double-effect has aroused many debates. However, a person who is ready to succumb to the pain from his sickness makes the decision whether to end their lives without doctor’s influence hence all they require is only the doctor’s assistance to prescribe the drugs. Patients are permitted to request physicians to assist them to end their pain but it is the physician’s obligation to explain to them the side effects of administering the drug. Most countries have not already legalized the double-effect rule therefore it is the responsibility of the medical officials to be honest on this issue.