Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
https://bjan-sba.org/article/doi/10.1016/j.bjane.2018.03.002
Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Review Article

The role of end-of-life palliative sedation: medical and ethical aspects - Review

O papel da sedação paliativa no fim da vida: aspectos médicos e éticos - Revisão

Miriam S. Menezes; Maria das Graças Mota da Cruz de Assis Figueiredo

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Abstract

Abstract Background and objective: Palliative sedation is a medical procedure that has been used for more than 25 years to relieve refractory symptoms not responsive to any previous treatment in patients with no possibility of cure and near the end of life. Many uncertainties persist on the theme regarding definition, indications, decision making, most appropriate place to perform the procedure, most used drugs, need for monitoring, fluids and nutritional support, and possible ethical dilemmas. The objective of this review was to seek a probable consensus among the authors regarding these topics not yet fully defined. Method: An exploratory search was made in secondary sources, from 1990 to 2016, regarding palliative sedation and its clinical and bioethical implications. Conclusions: Palliative sedation is an alternative to alleviate end-of-life patient suffering due to refractory symptoms, particularly dyspnea and delirium, after all other treatment options have been exhausted. Decision making involves prior explanations, discussions and agreement of the team, patient, and/or family members. It can be performed in general hospital units, hospices and even at home. Midazolam is the most indicated drug, and neuroleptics may also be required in the presence of delirium. These patients' monitoring is limited to comfort observation, relief of symptoms, and presence of adverse effects. There is no consensus on whether or not to suspend fluid and nutritional support, and the decision must be made with family members. From the bioethical standpoint, the great majority of authors are based on intention and proportionality to distinguish between palliative sedation, euthanasia, or assisted suicide.

Keywords

Palliative sedation, Terminally ill patient

Resumo

Resumo Justificativa e objetivo: Sedação paliativa é um procedimento médico que tem sido empregado há mais de 25 anos com a finalidade de aliviar sintomas refratários que não respondem a tratamento anterior em pacientes sem possibilidade de cura e próximos do fim da vida. Muitas incertezas persistem sobre o tema no que diz respeito à definição, às indicações, à tomada de decisão, ao local mais adequado para fazer o procedimento, aos fármacos mais usados, à necessidade de monitoração, ao apoio hídrico e nutricional e aos possíveis dilemas éticos. O objetivo desta revisão foi o de buscar um provável consenso entre os autores em relação a esses tópicos ainda não totalmente definidos. Método: Foi feita uma pesquisa exploratória em fontes secundárias, a partir de 1990 até 2016, a respeito de sedação paliativa e suas implicações clínicas e bioéticas. Conclusões: A sedação paliativa é uma opção para aliviar sofrimento de pacientes no fim da vida, devido a sintomas refratários, especialmente dispneia e delirium, após terem sido esgotadas todas as outras opções de tratamento. A tomada de decisão envolve explicações prévias, discussões e concordância da equipe, pacientes e ou parentes. Pode ser feita em unidades hospitalares gerais ou de retarguarda e mesmo no domicílio. Midazolam é o fármaco mais indicado, podendo ser necessários também neurolépticos na presença de delirium. A monitoração desses pacientes se resume apenas à observação do conforto, do alívio dos sintomas e da presença de efeitos adversos. Não existe consenso em suspender ou não o apoio hídrico e nutricional; a decisão deve ser tomada junto aos parentes. Do ponto de vista bioético, a grande maioria dos autores se fundamenta na intenção e na proporcionalidade para fazer a distinção entre sedação paliativa, eutanásia ou suicídio assistido.

Palavras-chave

Sedação paliativa, Paciente terminal

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