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Medical Care at the End of Life: A Catholic Perspective [Paperback]

By David F. Kelly (Author)
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Item description for Medical Care at the End of Life: A Catholic Perspective by David F. Kelly...

For over thirty years, David F. Kelly has worked with medical practitioners, students, families, and the sick and dying to confront the difficult and often painful issues that concern medical treatment at the end of life. In this short and practical book, Kelly shares his vast experience, providing a rich resource for thinking about life's most painful decisions.

Kelly outlines eight major issues regarding end-of-life care as seen through the lens of the Catholic medical ethics tradition. He looks at the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means; the difference between killing and allowing to die; criteria of patient competence; what to do in the case of incompetent patients; the meaning and use of advance directives; the morality of hydration and nutrition; physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia; and medical futility. Kelly's analysis is sprinkled with significant legal decisions and, throughout, elaborations on how the Catholic medical ethics tradition -- as well as teachings of bishops and popes -- understands each issue. He provides a helpful glossary to supplement his introduction to the terminology used by philosophical health care ethics. Included in Kelly's discussion is his lucid description of why the Catholic tradition supports the discontinuation of medical care in the Terry Schiavo case. He also explores John Paul II's controversial papal allocution concerning hydration and nutrition for unconscious patients, arguing that the Catholic tradition does not require feeding the permanently unconscious.

"Medical Care at the End of Life" addresses the major issues that inform this last stage of caregiving. It offers a critical guide to understanding the medical ethics and relevant legal cases needed for clear thinking when individuals are faced with those crucial decisions.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Medical Care at the End of Life: A Catholic Perspective by David F. Kelly has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Univ PR Books for Public Libry - 01/01/2007 page 1

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Georgetown University Press
Pages   180
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.44" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2006
Publisher   Georgetown University Press
Age  22
ISBN  1589011120  
ISBN13  9781589011120  

Availability  0 units.

More About David F. Kelly

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David F. Kelly is a professor of theology and health care ethics and director of the Health Care Ethics Center at Duquesne University. He has studied in Louvain, Belgium, and in Toronto and has gamered much practical experience from his work at St. Francis and Mercy Hospitals in Pittsburgh.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Medicine > General
2Books > Subjects > Medicine > Physician & Patient > Medical Ethics
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Death
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Medical Ethics
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism

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Reviews - What do customers think about Medical Care at the End of Life: A Catholic Perspective?

Thoughtful evaluation of a difficult subject  Sep 5, 2007
David Kelly has presented a thoughtful approach to end-of-life issues, an area in which religious, ethical, secular, legal, and medical experts cannot reach agreement. For example, even leading Catholic ethicists such as William May and Benedict Ashley do not agree on all end-of-life issues.

Pulling one quote out of context from the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an injustice to an author who has devoted his life to the study of medical ethics. For those who can only work within the framework of the Catechism, the author quotes 2278: "Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected."

He often refers to an "American consensus", rather than referring to traditional principles of bioethics. While some of his stances are highly controversial, such as his support of the Terry Schiavo outcome, and his criticism of Pope John Paul II's stance on Persistent Vegetative State, his book is readable and presents the issues in a clear fashion.
While I disagree with many of his conclusions, he is direct about his perspective!
An erroneous perspective  Apr 2, 2007
On page 103 of this book, the author makes the following statement:

"To claim that treatment can be morally extraordinary only when the person's death is imminent, regardless of whether the treatment is given, is to give biological life itself an absolute value that supercedes all other values."

The problem for Mr. Kelly is that his Catholic 'perspective' contradicts Catholic doctrine. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following:

"471. What medical procedures are permitted when death is considered imminent?

When death is considered imminent the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. However, it is legitimate to use pain-killers which do not aim at in death and to refuse 'over-zealous treatment,' that is the utilization of disproportionate medical procedures without reasonable hope of a positive outcome."

In other words, Catholics can only contemplate the sort of actions envisioned by Mr. Kelly when death is indeed imminent, and owe a higher standard of care than he suggests. Likewise, they should be wary of the erroneous conclusions found in his book.

A far better resource is Archbishop Jose Gomez's A Will to Live: Clear Answers on End of Life Issues.

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