Cutting the Gordian knot of futility : a case for law reform on unilateral withholding and withdrawal of potentially life-sustaining treatment

Downie, Jocelyn, Willmott, Lindy, & White, Benjamin P. (2014) Cutting the Gordian knot of futility : a case for law reform on unilateral withholding and withdrawal of potentially life-sustaining treatment. New Zealand Universities Law Review, 26(1), pp. 24-59.

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Abstract

In this paper, we propose law reform with respect to the unilateral withholding or withdrawal of potentially life-sustaining treatment in Australia and New Zealand. That is, where a doctor withholds or withdraws potentially life-sustaining treatment without consent from a patient or a patient’s substitute decision-maker (where the patient lacks capacity), or authorisation from a court or tribunal, or by operation of a statute or justifiable government or institutional policy. Our proposal is grounded in the core values that do (or should) underpin a regulatory framework on an issue such as this; these values are drawn from existing commitments made by Australia and New Zealand through legislation, the common law, and conventions and treaties. It is also grounded in a critical review of the law on unilateral withholding and withdrawal as well as the legal context within which this issue sits in Australasia. We argue that the current law is inconsistent with the core values and develop a proposal for a legal response to this issue that more closely aligns with the core values it is supposed to serve.

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ID Code: 74688
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Futility, Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, End of life decision-making, Health law, Medical law
ISSN: 0549-0618
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law and Society (180119)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > APPLIED ETHICS (220100) > Medical Ethics (220106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Funding:
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Brookers Ltd
Deposited On: 04 Aug 2014 22:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2014 13:29

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