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Breitsameter, Christof (2024): When dying does not go well: a qualitative study. BMC Palliative Care, 23 (1). ISSN 1472-684X

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Several studies deal with the question of what constitutes a "satisfactory death". A smaller number of studies deal with unsatisfactory dying processes. And only a few shed light on unsatisfactory deaths that take place in hospices and palliative care units, which see themselves as places conducive to a "good" death. What also remains largely undiscussed are the ethical aspects that accompany the observation of an unsatisfactory course of death.

The research was carried out as an exploratory and qualitative study. The data collection and analysis were based on the methods of the "grounded theory".

Notions of a bad death are articulated here, though hardly by the affected persons and their relatives themselves, but rather by the professionals. Principally, descriptions of unsatisfactory dying processes refer to deficient success in symptom control, whereby the principle of autonomy is of particular importance. The focus here is not only on the needs of patients, but also on the needs of staff. The manifestation of such notions is related to the requirements arising from a practice that apparently evokes a need for accountability in the form of communicative reassurance.

An idealised definition of "dying well" is in danger of losing sight of the contextual specifics of the practice involved, which can lead to ethically problematic situations.

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