End of Life Choices

Palliative Terminal/Sedation

Palliative Sedation, sometimes called terminal sedation, involves being medicated to the point of the loss of consciousness. Typically the person remains unconscious until death.

At the same time, all nutrition and fluids are stopped. Palliative sedation is often a good option for those suffering from extreme pain and suffering.  Palliative sedation must be medically managed by a healthcare provider and must be provided in a hospital or institutional setting such as an inpatient hospice facility. It is rarely provided at home.

The intent of palliative/terminal sedation is not to cause death, but to relieve suffering. Palliative sedation is only given to relieve severe, unrelieved suffering, and it is only utilized when a patient is already close to death.

Palliative sedation has been administered since the hospice care movement began in the 1960s and is legal everywhere in the U.S.  

Palliative sedation is generally restricted to those who are imminently and irreversibly dying.  It is not a widely practiced method of care at this time and is generally only prescribed in extreme situations.

End of Life Choices California provides information and personal support regarding California’s End of Life Option Act and all other legal end-of-life options to the medical community and to the public.