Tue, May 29, 2018 - Page 4 News List

New Patient Right to Autonomy Act regulations drafted

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has drafted regulations that stipulates respect for patient autonomy in healthcare, including clear definitions of patient rights as to the termination of life-sustaining treatment, as well as artificial nutrition and hydration.

The draft regulations are being prepared for the implementation of the Patient Right to Autonomy Act (病人自主權利法), which was passed by legislators in 2015 and is due to be promulgated on Jan. 6 next year.

Under the act, which has been touted as the first of its kind in Asia, patients with five clinical conditions who have made an advance decision could have physicians partially or fully terminate, withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment, artificial nutrition and hydration in accordance with their advance decision.

The statutory conditions for such patients are that they are either terminally ill, in an irreversible coma, in a permanent vegetative state, suffering from severe dementia or another condition that is determined to be unbearable or incurable.

The regulations define terminally ill patients as those entitled to hospice palliative care.

They define patients in an irreversible coma and in permanent vegetative state as those in the state of unconsciousness caused by external injuries for more than six months and those in such a state caused by non-external injures for more than three months without any sign of recovery.

Patients suffering from severe brain damage that can be proven by medical evidence and who are determined to be unlikely to regain consciousness are also to be included.

The act was drawn up to “respect patient autonomy in healthcare, to safeguard their right to a good death and to promote a harmonious physician-patient relationship,” the ministry said.

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