This is sick

Nurses General Nursing


I'm watching an OLD episode of Chicago Hope on Discovery Health channel. This episode, a doctor went to court to try and have a morphine drip increased for a patient in a vegitative state up to a fatal dose.

What I found disturbing was one point, the doctor ordered a nurse to adminster it, and she refused. He then proceded to scream and yell at her. Her nurse supervisor told her "Don't you see what you've done? This is done in silence all the time, but now its on the record!"

The doctors said the same thing, how euthanaisa goes on every day in the U.S. with a "wink" between Dr's and families. Has anyone ever heard of this? I'm almost halfway through an ADN program, have worked a year as a CNA and know lots of doctors and nurses and have never heard of this. I just found it highly disturbing. I don't like to see people suffer, but I also don't like to see doctors playing God either.


219 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Peds, Ortho, LTC and MORE.

I think there is a HUGE difference between a television show and "real life" medical and nursing care. If a Doctor told me to administer a "fatal dosage", in my professional opinion, I too, would refuse, and tell him that 1. I would inform my supervisor of my professional judgement that the doseage was inappropriate 2. if the doctor wanted that dose given he was free to administer it 3. I would also inform the Chief of the Medical Staff of this situtation as well 4. If my supervisor disagreed with me, then the supervisor would be free to give the dose the doctor wanted, or not. 5. If my supervisor "yelled" at me saying "this was done all the time off the record" I would report that to the correct authorities as well. 6. If a doctor yelled at me I would calmly say please treat me as a professional, with respect and dignity, and until you can this conversation is over, and walk away.

Of course , this is what I would do in real life, I can't say what others would do.

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.

Of course , this is what I would do in real life, I can't say what others would do.

The TV show also skipped the entire concept of a Hospice referral. Because of course, doctors are gods and nurses know nothing about end-of-life or palliative issues.....

*insert eye-rolling smiley and appropriate dose of sarcasm*


6,620 Posts

I have never seen active euthanasia. Many times I've said I wished we could do it, but no one I know ever would.

Liddle Noodnik

1 Article; 3,789 Posts

Specializes in Alzheimer's, Geriatrics, Chem. Dep..
I'm watching an OLD episode of Chicago Hope on Discovery Health channel. .

I have NEVER seen this happen in real life. Not in 20 years!

Specializes in ICU, CCU, Trauma, neuro, Geriatrics.

When I worked in ICU I did a lot of terminal weanings. Never gave a "fatal" dose of anything. We just withdrew treatments that were prolonging end of life for many suffering patients. We of course gave medications to limit pain and suffering, but never actually caused the end with a bolus of medications.


8,343 Posts

I think it happens more than we are willing to admit. My Dad's death I believe was speed up by the Homecare Nurse. Do I blame her no. Did I report my thoughts no. The timing was just too coincidental but all along he had said that he was terminal and had accepted that there was no cure.

At the end there was so much morphine in the house, and no drug count was done, so I have no idea what was in his midnight dose. Just that he died shortly after it was administered. After he died all we had to do was call for the funeral home.

When we asked what to do with his meds, we were told to take them to two specific pharmacies that could deal with disposing of narcotics. In the end we gave them to a Dr. that my Mum knew worked a lot of palliative care with patients who couldn't afford their meds. We'd paid for them, most were sealed individual doses, so why waste them?

Cancer is a horrible disease and when someone knows they are terminal they should have the option. As my Dad said, they've been promising a cure since Terry Fox did the Marathon of Hope, they sure aren't going to cure it in the three months I have left.


45 Posts

In the book Nurse by Peggy Anderson the author talks about slowly killing off patients. She wrote about how they would give them high levels of pain medication in frequent intervals. By the time they give the next dose, the previous dose hadn't totally gone out of the system and the dose would build up over time and, I think she called it, "whiting out", I think, or something like that.

A lot of people say this book is a pretty accurate (albeit dated) account of nursing.

I'm not a nurse yet, so I have no idea!


6,620 Posts

There is a huge difference between giving a medication for pain which could result in death and intentionally killing someone with a medication. People tend to blur the two.

plumrn, BSN, RN

424 Posts

I agree with fergus51. We administer potentially fatal doses every day, but not to kill someone. If they are at deaths door and in agony, we medicate the heck out of them. Sometimes the window between a fatal dose, and a merciful, pain relieving dose, is very narrow.


4,177 Posts

There is a suit up before the supreme court about oregon's assisted suicide law...why it is legal in oregon and dr keforkian is in jail is something i can't say

i would not want to linger in pain...i would not want my kids to have to make that choice which could haunt them for the rest of their lives of whether they had made the right choice or not

i do not believe that this is a decision that should be made by doctor ....old joke: the differance between God and a doctor is that God doesn't believe He is a doctor

but no i have never seen a mercy killing in a hospital..i have seen frustrated families .. about the pain killer not lasting the q4hours and nurses not being able to repeat dose

the family knew that they were at the end of the road and they wanted their loved one to be in some degree of comfort


310 Posts

Thats what I thought. This episode made it sound like it was a daily practice that happens all the time.

Another thing to consider, say a son or daughter insists that this be done, so the doctor does it, then another child maybe the doctor didn't know about right away or whatever shows up and wants an autopsy done or something. Just saying, not many ways to CYA if your going to do something like this. Personally, I don't think its a decision for us to make.

I agree, that witholding prolonging treatment is much different than admistering a fatal dose of something.

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