Palliative sedation is a medical technique for terminally ill patients who cannot receive adequate pain relief while they are awake. Palliative sedation uses sedative medications to make the patient unaware and unconscious while the disease takes its course. This relieves extreme suffering by placing the patient in a kind of sleep. The sedative medication is gradually increased until the patient is comfortable and able to relax. Palliative sedation is not intended to cause death or shorten life (Erin Brender, MD; Alison Burke, MA; Richard M. Glass, MD. JAMA. 2005;294(14):1850.)
This has not stopped euthanasia advocates from asserting that palliative sedation is euthanasia. The inimitable Wesley Smith has a blog post on this and he refers to an article in the Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy that takes this deliberate conflation of these two very different things to the woodshed. It’s a great read. Check it out here.