The concept of personhood is critical to the provision of holistic, patient-centred, palliative care yet no common definition of this term exists. Some characterise personhood by the presence of consciousness-related features such as self-awareness while others deem personhood present by virtue of Divine endowment or as a result of one's social relations. Efforts to appropriately delineate this concept come under scrutiny following suggestions that patients rendered deeply and irreversibly unconscious lack personhood and ought to be considered ‘dead’.
This case report studies the views of a family caring for a deeply sedated terminally ill patient, to appropriately site local views of personhood within the context of sedation at the end of life. The resultant Ring Theory of Personhood dispenses with concerns that personhood is solely dependent upon consciousness and distances sedative treatments of last resort such as continuous deep sedation from euthanasia.
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