Hospice vs Assisted Death: Difference and Comparison

The world is moving to a new generation and time at a high pace. It is true that time never stops for anyone, and with time, things and situations keep on changing.

Today, more importance is given to money than health. Everyone is concerned about how wealthy they are rather than how healthy they are.

This has resulted in degrading health and increasing the number of patients. In contrast, some of them get treated completely and go back to their normal life easily, while others might be nearer to death than they are in life.

To such people who are critically ill, there are only two options of service provided, hospice and assisted death.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hospice care focuses on providing comfort and pain relief to terminally ill patients. Assisted death involves a medical professional administering a lethal dose of medication to end a patient’s life.
  2. Hospice care emphasizes holistic support, including emotional, spiritual, and physical care, while assisted death is a single intervention.
  3. Assisted death is legal only in certain jurisdictions, whereas hospice care is widely accepted and available worldwide.

Hospice vs Assisted Death

The difference between hospice and assisted death is both of them have different results and processes. In hospice, the patient is provided with a choice of having medical attention and treatment to live the remainder of his life by fighting their current condition (illness), whereas, in assisted death, the patient is given a choice to end his life and the unbearable suffering of pain and difficulty. Therefore, in hospice, the process is of how to live, while in assisted death, the process of whether and how to die. Both of them are also known by different terms. For hospice, palliative care and palliative sedation are also used, and euthanasia and assisted suicide are other related terms for assisted death.

Hospice vs Assisted Death

Hospice is a term used for a person who is terminally ill and chooses to have medical treatment to fight the illness or his medical condition to be fit and fine again and to live the remainder of his life. This option is provided to every person in the world, where the person chooses to live and control the remainder of his life, and there is no restriction in this option.

Assisted Death is another option given to a patient who is seriously ill and close to death, although this option is only provided to certain areas or parts of the world where the person who is mentally capable of choosing, chose to die a peaceful death rather than living a painful and unbearable life. In this, the choice is to die and to control the way of death.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHospiceAssisted Death
DignityOf livingEnding painful life
ChoiceTo liveTo die
AcceptanceAccepted worldwideOnly to some part of life
RestrictionsNo restriction on anyoneAvailable only for ill, mentally capable adults
ControlThe remainder of lifeThe manner of dying

What is Hospice?

When a person is critically ill, he is given the service of hospice, under which he is given all the required treatment and medical attention that could make his life a little painless or better. It is only given to patients nearer to death who do not choose to die.

It is given to every individual. This treatment is given to the patient until their last breath.

The place where this treatment is given could be anywhere as suitable to the patient or the staff providing the medical care. It can be an institution or the residence of the patient.

This treatment has the main motive to ease the life of the patient by providing relief from the pain, which also includes emotional support. This treatment is not new but as old as Greek and Roman times and is accepted worldwide with no such restrictions of age, gender, caste, or religion.

What is Assisted Death?

This is an option given to a mentally capable but terminally ill person. Under this option, the patient chooses to die a peaceful death rather than suffering from painful life.

It is only given to patients with no hope of getting treated fully by any medications and who are incapable of mental thinking. By choosing this option, the patient chooses to die by consuming lethal drugs rather than waiting for death by bearing the pain.

Under this option, only the patient has the right to choose, and even his family cannot have any opinion on this matter. This option faces a lot of criticism even nowadays, some people or laws suggest that it is just the same as suicide, which is illegal and is a criminal offence, and hence this option should not be given to the patient, while others believe that having a painful life with no hope has no meaning, and it’s better to die peacefully.

It should be a patient’s choice whether he wants to live the rest of his life waiting for the ultimate death or choose to die early.

Main Differences Between Hospice and Assisted Death

  1. In terms of dignity, both of these options differ. For example, in hospice, the dignity is in living, in fighting for their life by battling with the illness or disease and coming back more powerful than ever, whereas, in assisted death option, the dignity is in death, it is ending the painful and unbearable life with a peaceful and painless death.
  2. Both of these options are provided to a person who has to make a choice. In the case of hospice, the choice of living while getting the treatment which can be either surgeries, medicines, or anything else, whereas, in the case of assisted death, the option is to die, which can also be by several means.
  3. Both of these terms can also be differentiated on the basis of their acceptance. The option of hospice is accepted worldwide. In every part of the world, the hospice option is available to everyone irrespective of their illness and condition, whereas the option of assisted death is only accepted in a few parts of the world as not many people consider death over the living.
  4. In terms of restriction, as mentioned above, hospice is available to everyone, irrespective of their age, gender, religion, type of disease, or illness. Everyone has the right to this option, whereas only in the accepted area and only by the terminally ill person who is mentally capable of making a choice has the option of assisted death. Otherwise, no such option is provided.
  5. Patients have different types of control in these options, in the case of hospice, the control is on the remainder of their life, which they want to live no matter how much pain they have to bear, while in the case of assisted death, the control in the manner of dying, if and how they want to die to get free of the constant suffering.
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1353/hcr.2010.0016
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1049909111418637
  3. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7Y4dBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA223&dq=hospice+and+assisted+death&ots=Y7WU7cLscy&sig=9Je5KQ5gAOjbpLiXDbPdWrtlLdk
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Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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5 thoughts on “Hospice vs Assisted Death: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The main differences between hospice and assisted death highlight the ethical and moral considerations involved. Both alternatives have profound effects on the lives of patients and their loved ones.

  2. Hospice provides holistic support to patients, the emotional, spiritual, and physical care is fundamental. Assisted death is a sensitive topic, but it’s important to consider the patient’s right to decide how to face the end of life.

  3. The comparison table shows the clear distinctions between hospice and assisted death. It is crucial for healthcare providers to provide patients with all the necessary information to understand the implications of each option.

  4. The concepts of hospice care and assisted death are fundamental to understand and make informed decisions in critical moments of life. Both options are complex and must be analyzed carefully before choosing. The patient’s dignity and autonomy must be respected in all cases.

  5. It’s essential to note that the option of assisted death is only given to terminally ill patients who are mentally capable. This decision presents a significant ethical dilemma but also respects the patient’s autonomy.


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