Sunday, May 22, 2022
Role of Law in End-of-Life Decision-Making: Perspectives of Patients, Substitute Decision-Makers and Families
Lindy Willmott (Queensland University of Technology), Ben White (Queensland University of Technology), Rachel Feeney (University of Queensland), Cheryl Tilse (University of Queensland), Jill Wilson (University of Queensland), Joanne Aitken (Cancer Council Queensland), Role of Law in End-of-Life Decision-Making: Perspectives of Patients, Substitute Decision-Makers and Families, 28 J. Law & Med. 813 (2021):
The law regulating medical end-of-life decisions aims to support patients to receive high-quality health care. It does so through ensuring treatment received reflects the person’s wishes and values and protecting health professionals who provide adequate pain and symptom relief even if that treatment may coincidentally hasten death. However, good decision-making is predicated by those involved, including patients themselves and those supporting patients, being familiar with the law and the role it plays in the decision-making process. This article reports on a study exploring the role that law plays in end-of-life decision-making from the perspective of terminally-ill patients, their substitute decision-makers and family members. While participants’ decision-making practices were often underpinned by a legal framework, the role of the law was largely invisible. Community education is needed for the public to know their legal rights and responsibilities, and to understand that the law plays a role in supporting end-of-life decision-making.