Passive euthanasia: Here’s why Mumbai experts feel implementing living will is a challenge
Till now doctors were making the decision of withdrawing life support in consensus with relatives.mumbai Updated: Mar 10, 2018 22:18 IST
A day after the Supreme Court legalised ‘passive euthanasia’ and creation of living wills, experts at a discussion on ‘end of life care’ at KEM Hospital on Saturday said implementing the order will be a challenge.
Passive euthanasia refers to the withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention of hastening a terminally ill patient’s death. Meanwhile, a ‘living will’ or an advanced directive enables a patient to give consent for withdrawal of life support systems if the individual is reduced to a permanent vegetative state with no real chances of survival.
Dr Dhavani Mehta, lawyer at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said the procedure laid down by the court is lengthy and practically not feasible.
Till now doctors were making the decision of withdrawing life support in consensus with relatives. However, now the procedure for passive euthanasia and living will be reviewed by a hospital medical board, followed by an external medical board, only after which the decision of withdrawing treatment can be implemented, she said.
“Now teams of doctors will be required to visit the patients at the same time. We need to speak to doctors as to how feasible it is given their busy hours. But to me, it doesn’t seem practically possible,” Mehta said.
Veena Johari, a city-based lawyer opined that the procedure laid down by the court for implementing the advanced directives could defeat the purpose of having one. “With this court order, the problem is that the doctor can’t go just by this directive. Two medical boards will have to review the directive. Till the decision is made by the boards, the patient may have to be put on life support device or medicine,” she said.
Meanwhile, hospitals will soon have to constitute a medical board to review cases of withdrawal of treatment. Dr Roop Gursahani, a neurologist at PD Hinduja and Research Centre, who is part of a group advocating for living wills, said, “We will have to constitute a medical board. Until we get this sorted out, we are stuck,” he said.