– Palliative sedation is given to relieve refractory discomfort (pain, shortness of breath, agitation) during the phase when life expectancy is estimated to be a week or less. It is a medical intervention which, although not expressly meant to shorten life, may well do so. There is an inherent uncertainty here which is the cause of considerable ethical unease. Figures show that in a limited number of cases palliative sedation is actually applied with the intention to hasten death. It may well be impossible to rid ourselves of this uncertainty conclusively.
Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 2005;149:449-51