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Palliative Sedation With Propofol for an Adolescent With a DNR Order

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Johnson, L. M.; Frader, J.; Wolfe, J.; Baker, J. N.; Anghelescu, D. L.; Lantos, J. D.

Death from cancer is often painful. Usually, the pain can be relieved in ways that allow patients to remain awake and alert until the end. Sometimes, however, the only way to relieve pain is to sedate patients until they are unconscious. This method has been called palliative sedation therapy. Palliative sedation therapy is controversial because it can be misunderstood as euthanasia. We present a case in which an adolescent who is dying of leukemia has intractable pain. Experts in oncology, ethics, pain management, and palliative care discuss the trade-offs associated with different treatment strategies.

Research abstracts