Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment in a Patient's Best Interests: Australian Judicial Deliberations
Medical Journal of Australia, 201(9), pp. 545-547, 2014
8 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2016
Date Written: 2014
Intractable disputes about withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment from adults who lack capacity are rare but challenging. Judicial resolution may be needed in some of these cases.
A central concept for judicial (and clinical) decision making in this area is a patient's “best interests”. Yet what this term means is contested.
There is an emerging Supreme Court jurisprudence that sheds light on when life-sustaining treatment will, or will not, be judged to be in a patient's best interests.
Treatment that is either futile or overly burdensome is not in a patient's best interests. Although courts will consider patient and family wishes, they have generally deferred to the views of medical practitioners about treatment decisions.
Keywords: Health law, Medical law, End of life decision-making, Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, Best interests, Parens patriae jurisdiction, Futility
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