The Legal Role of Medical Professionals in Decisions to Withhold or Withdraw Life-Sustaining Treatment: Part 3 (Victoria)
Journal of Law and Medicine, 18(4), pp. 773-797, 2011
Posted: 10 Jul 2016
Date Written: 2011
This is the final article in a series of three that examines the legal role of medical professionals in decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from adults who lack capacity. This article considers the position in Victoria. A review of the law in this State reveals that medical professionals play significant legal roles in these decisions. However, the law is problematic in a number of respects and this is likely to impede medical professionals’ legal knowledge in this area. The article examines the level of training that medical professionals receive on issues such as refusal of treatment certificates and substitute decision-making, and the available empirical evidence as to the state of medical professionals’ knowledge of the law at the end of life. It concludes that there are gaps in legal knowledge and that law reform is needed in Victoria. The article also draws together themes from the series as a whole, including conclusions about the need for more and better medical education and about law reform generally.
Keywords: End of life decision-making, Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining medical treatment, Doctors' knowledge of the law, Doctors' compliance with the law, Adult guardianship, Substitute decision-making, Advance directives
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