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Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining medical treatment

By Lindy Willmott, Benjamin P. White and Shih-Ning Then

Abstract

• At common law, a competent adult can refuse life-sustaining medical treatment, either contemporaneously or through an advance directive which will operate at a later time when the adult’s capacity is lost.\ud • Legislation in most Australian jurisdictions also provides for a competent adult to complete an advance directive that refuses life-sustaining medical treatment.\ud • At common law, a court exercising its parens patriae jurisdiction can consent to, or authorise, the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining medical treatment from an adult or child who lacks capacity if that is in the best interests of the person. A court may also declare that the withholding or withdrawal of treatment is lawful.\ud • Guardianship legislation in most jurisdictions allows a substitute decision-maker, in an appropriate case, to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment for an adult who lacks capacity.\ud • In terms of children, a parent may refuse life-sustaining medical treatment for his or her child if it is in the child’s best interests.\ud • While a refusal of life-sustaining medical treatment by a competent child may be valid, this decision can be overturned by a court.\ud • At common law and generally under guardianship statutes, demand for futile treatment need not be complied with by doctors

Topics: 180199 Law not elsewhere classified, Health law, Medical law, Adult guardianship, End of life decision-making, Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment
Publisher: Thomson Reuters Australia
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:33686
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