The life of a person is just a span, and everyone wants to live as long and happy as it is possible. None of self-respecting and educated people would recognize murder as allowed or consider it a ‘mercy’, most would condemn it. Some would consider volunteer euthanasia permitted in the event of agony when it concerns others, some would ask to have system disconnected in case of pain, torment and despair, others would reconcile their own fate, abandon hope and wait, just a few would fight even understanding that nothing can be changed.
While being on the hospital bed and realizing that death-day is coming soon, many people take decisions they would never reach in other situation. Still sometimes, patients are unable to think rationally, because of their comatose condition, and their relatives and friends make such choices for them.
In Gessner – Robaczynski case a nurse determined the course of events, although she was not authorized to do so. According to the trial, Ms. Robaczynski was charged of intentional disconnecting of Mr. Gessner from the respirator. It should be mentioned that according to Ms. Robaczynski, she did not feel blood pressure and pulse of the patient, so she could consider him dead at that moment. It is not stated whether there was a hospital sphygmomanometer, but in case of its absence, Ms. Robaczynski could have been mistaken concerning Mr. Gessner’s blood pressure and pulse, as at some stages of coma their indicators may be extremely low.
Despite the fact that Harry Gessner had bladder cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and pneumonia, and probably, was going to die in a few hours, his friends and relatives could have had a chance to give him a last goodbye, and Ms. Robaczynski deprived them of such a right.
Moreover, the nurse did not consult with any doctor. She was not approaching anyone because she knew the whole patient medical record, but still she was not entitled to take such a decision.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to state whether Ms. Robaczynski murdered the patient, since she simply did not give him another dose of air, what is commonly said to be passive euthanasia. Ms. Robaczynski did not act to save the life of the patient, but rather to stop it. She let him die and assisted in that process.
There is also no information whether Mr. Gessner wanted to be disconnected, or whether his relatives would allow to turn off his brain in case the pulse was just too low. If there were some documents, declarations or affidavits expressing a desire to have a life support system removed, which would give permission for the removal of the equipment in advance, Ms. Robaczynski’s actions would be considered as helping the patient to bear his agony. Namely, this step would be viewed as if it was made for the sake of the patient’s relief.
Ms. Robaczynski withdrew life-sustaining treatment what in other words may be called passive euthanasia, which by the way is illegal in the state of Maryland. Thus, Ms. Robaczynski acted unlawfully towards Mr. Gessner, when she disconnected the system. She would also conduct herself against the law even if she was authorized to such actions according to the legislation of Maryland, because passive euthanasia is prohibited in the state. On the other hand, there was no reason to continue life supporting as there were no or little chances for the patient to recover, although the nurse did not know this when she removed the respirator.
Gessner – Robaczynski case is a topic for long-lasting debates. Ms. Robaczynski let the patient Mr. Gessner die and assisted him in this, however the main task of a medical worker is to save the life, which is the biggest gift people could ever have.
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