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Report No. 196

Principles which are proposed to be discussed in this Chapter for application in our country:

(1) Advances in science and technology and concepts of brain-stem death.

(2) Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide are and shall continue to be criminal offences in India but not withholding or withdrawal of life supporting systems.

(3) Adult patients' right of self determination and right to refuse treatment is binding on doctors if it is based on informed decision process.

(4) Giving invasive medical treatment contrary to a patient's will amounts to battering or in some cases may amount to murder.

(5) Advance directives (living wills); and powers of attorney in favour of surrogates to be invalid in our country;

(6) State's interest in protecting life and principle of sanctity of life are not absolute.

(7) Refusal to obtain medical treatment does not amount to 'attempt to commit suicide' and withholding or withdrawing medical treatment by a doctor does not amount to 'abetment of suicide'.

(8) Competent and incompetent patients, 'informed decision' and 'best interests' of the patients, consultation with a body of three experts before treatment is withheld or withdrawn.

(9) Statutory body to prepare panel of experts.

(10) The Court has power, in appropriate cases, to grant declaration that, on the facts of the particular case, the giving or withholding or withdrawing invasive medical treatment is lawful.

(11) Does the Court's declaration provide immunity to doctor from civil or criminal action in subsequent litigation, civil and criminal.

(12) Palliative care can be given to patients to relieve pain and sufferings even if, in some cases, it may adversely affect health of the patient.

(13) Confidentiality to be maintained whether declaration is sought in Court or not.

(14) Guidelines by the Medical Council of India in consultation with experts and the Indian Society for Critical Medical Care.

(As to (8) above, for the purposes of 'informed consent', one may also refer to a very good article by Prof. B.S. Venugopal, Vice-Principal, V.B. College of Law, Udipi, Karnataka in (2004) Journal of Indian Law Institute, p 393).

Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Back

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