Court Judgement Reaffirms End of Life Decision Making

David Nitkin, EthicScan’s President, draws attention to the way this decision highlights differences between the law, ethics, and morality.  The Justices affirm the requirement in law that, in jurisdictions which have Consent and Capacity Boards, physicians must get consent for removing life-sustaining, interventions, like ventilators and feeding tubes.

Family and human rights advocates are likely pleased with the decision, but health care professionals must surely sigh upon reflecting on complex end of life dilemmas. Many patients are too far gone to communicate their wishes. A lot of patients have never given directions when entering hospital about what are their end of life wishes.  And the often contradictory advice of adult children about what are the needs of their father, mother or child is a minefield of tension and quandary that may conflict with other important professional and societal values. 

Given the affirmation of the patient’s interests as paramount, health practitioners and facilities will have to learn how to manage an increasing demand for “doing everything.”  The process  in these situations is important as no decision making  tool or model will suffice.  

For Physicians who are reluctant to challenge Decision Makers decisions at the Consent and Capacity Board for various reasons, our End-of-Life Webinar Series will help you understand that there are things you can do internally to help resolve many of these disagreements before going to the Consent and Capacity Board. 


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