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Janet Mansfield wrote:

Hi, guys —

Thank-you for your help on the last two questions I asked. You and your team are such a great help. Here's is another question.

I was watching a program on EWTN about the Right to Live. They said there is a form people can sign if they had to go to a hospital; something about not having to resuscitate.

They said signing a form like that was wrong and that we should allow doctors to do all they can for any hospitalized patient. I also heard on Immaculate Heart Radio that people were being allowed to die naturally and without any assistance.

When my dad was in the hospital he was 85 years old and they told me there was nothing more they could do for him because his heart was failing. The nurse asked me if I wanted them to give him a shot to relax him and I said, "Yes" — that was back in 2006.

Now, after hearing this, I am wondering if I did the right thing and whether what I said would be considered assistance in my father's passing.

  • Did I do the right thing in my father's last days in the hospital?

Thank-you,

Janet

  { Did I do the right thing in my father's last days in the hospital? }

Richard replied:

Dear Janet,

Thanks for your question.

Catholic moral teaching allows patients to receive medication when it's needed for the purpose of reducing pain, so it sounds like your father's case was part of legitimate medical treatment and conformed to Catholic medical ethics.

Sometimes people are concerned that such a medication might shorten the patient's life. If that is the case, it can still be acceptable as long as the pain-killing effect is worthwhile and the harmful effect is unintended.

There is an article about the care of terminally ill patients and this issue on the U.S. bishop's web site:

I hope this helps. God bless!

— Richard Chonak, for AskACatholic.com

Mike replied:

Hi Janet,

In addition to what Richard said, you may be interested in searching our knowledge base because
I know we have answered related questions in the past. Just type in the appropriate words in the search box.

Thank-you for the kind words about my team.
Each one is very knowledgeable and I learn a lot from their answers.

Take care,

Mike

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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