Therapeutic obstinacy

The aggressive treatment means in the medical field, the use of therapies overly burdensome for the patient, disproportionate to the expected improvement. The refusal of this fury can lead to death. It poses the problem of the conflict between the freedom of the patient and the convictions, even the financial interests, of the medical profession.

In some countries, including France, aggressive therapy is illegal as contrary to respect for the patient and the requirement of consent to examinations and care 1 . According to the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE), there is evidence of “unreasonable obstinacy, refusal by a stubborn reasoning to recognize that man is destined to die and it is not curable”

Aggressive treatment and euthanasia

The difficulty of the non-therapeutic relentlessness of the question lies in the limit with the euthanasia , which is punishable by law in most countries. The practice is a practice (or omission) which aims to provoke the death of an individual suffering from a disease incurable inflicting suffering intolerable, particularly by a physician or under his control.

In France , the Code of Medical Ethics 1995 rejects aggressive treatment, while upholding the hospice 2 . They do not aim to hasten the death of patients, but to relieve the pain, even if, to do this, sometimes caregivers to use doses of painkillers or analgesics that may bring the time of death.

The Denmark recognizes a right of patients to refuse treatment 2 .

Position of the Catholic Church

The Encyclical Evangelium Vitae recalls the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the end of life. It uses the previous distinctions and rejects the euthanasia and aggressive therapy:

“We must distinguish the euthanasia decision to give up what is called the aggressive treatment , that is to say for certain medical procedures which no longer correspond to the real situation of the patient, because they are Now disproportionate to the results that could be expected or because they are too burdensome for him and his family. In these situations, when death is imminent and inevitable, one can consciously “give up treatment that would only provide a precarious and painful reprieve of life without interrupting the care of the patient in such a case”

–  Evangelium vitae , 65

A distinction is drawn between “normal care” and medical treatment. Thus, in a document approved by Pope Benedict XVI , the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith believes that artificial nutrition and hydration are “generally an ordinary and proportionate means of sustaining life” which must not be interrupted by respect for the dignity of patients