The Ministry of Health and Welfare should strive to have its regulations and policies conform to the Patient Autonomy Act (病人自主權利法) passed last year to prevent retired people from teaching, civil service and military backgrounds from being kept on life support so their children can benefit from their 18 percent preferential interest rate on savings, the Control Yuan said yesterday.
The Control Yuan issued the remarks in a report by Control Yuan members Kao Feng-hsien (高鳳仙) and Chiang Chi-wen (江綺雯).
National Yang-Ming University Hospital doctor Chen Hsiu-tan (陳秀丹) told the legislature in November that a retired dean had been kept on life support and subjected to ineffective treatments for seven or eight years, the report said.
The man’s children refused to remove life support systems because of the dean’s pension and the 18 percent preferential interest rate that applies to teachers, civil service personnel and military retirees, Chen said in the report.
“Despite the legislature passing the act last year, which allowed patients to decide beforehand whether to be kept on life support, doctors who act according to a patient’s decision to terminate life support or to forgo medical treatment are still punished according to the Hospice Palliative Care Act (安寧緩和醫療條例),” the report said.
However, if doctors or medical establishments ignore the patient’s wishes, they are not subject to any legal consequences, the report said.
This encourages medical professionals to act against the patient’s wishes and is a grave affront to the spirit of the Patient Autonomy Act, it added.
The ministry must take heed of the gravity of the situation and pass measures to support the Patient Autonomy Act and allow patients’ decisions on whether to accept extraordinary medical aid to be respected, the report said.
In addition, although the ministry has implemented a variety of hospice care measures and allowed terminally ill patients to undergo treatment at home, few have applied for such care, it said.
The ministry should step up promotion of hospice care at home or within a hospice community to patients or their representatives, the report said.
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