A loophole allowing “euthanasia by stealth” has been closed after a warning from medical experts, the South Australian Government says. Source: The Advertiser.
Clinicians alerted officials that legally binding advance care directives (ACD), signed by patients ordering that no resuscitation measures be taken to save them, were being used by people wanting to end their lives.
Paramedics and emergency department doctors faced difficult decisions when dealing with people who, for example, deliberately overdosed on pills.
An ACD is a legal form that allows people aged over 18 to write instructions for their future health care, end of life, living arrangements and personal matters, for circumstances where they can no longer make their own decisions. This can include a “refusal of health care” directive, meaning a clinician cannot give treatment a person has refused.
A health worker can override such a directive only if there is evidence the person changed their mind, or if the clinician believes the person did not mean the refusal of health care to apply in their present circumstance.
Health Minister Stephen Wade said a regulation had clarified legal requirements for health workers under the Advance Care Directives Act 2013, regarding suicide attempts.
He said ACDs gave people peace of mind their wishes would be respected.
“However, clinicians have raised concerns that the legislation is unclear in situations where a patient has a current Advance Care Directive which includes a refusal of treatment and this person attempts suicide. The revisions clarify that, when faced with this situation, health practitioners are not legally required to follow the refusal of treatment in the ACD and can provide lifesaving treatment.”
SA Health acting chief medical officer Dr Nicola Spurrier welcomed the move.