The Knowledge and Practice of Doctors in Relation to the Law that Governs Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment from Adults Who Lack Capacity

Journal of Law and Medicine, 24, pp. 356-370

15 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2017

See all articles by Ben White

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Colleen Cartwright

Southern Cross University

Malcolm Parker

University of Queensland - School of Medicine

Gail Williams

University of Queensland

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Law establishes a framework for making decisions about withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment from adults who lack capacity. However, to what extent do doctors know and follow this law? This article reports on a three-year empirical study that sought to answer these questions. The research found that doctors have significant legal knowledge gaps in this area. It also found that doctors do not attach significant weight to legal considerations in their decision-making. This article argues that law does have a role to play in end-of-life care. However, law reform is needed to make the law more accessible, medical education needs to be improved, and a change in attitude by doctors to medical law is required.

Keywords: Health law, Medical law, Adult guardianship law, Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, Knowledge of law, Compliance with law, Survey of doctors, End of life decision-making

Suggested Citation

White, Ben and Willmott, Lindy and Cartwright, Colleen and Parker, Malcolm and Williams, Gail, The Knowledge and Practice of Doctors in Relation to the Law that Governs Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment from Adults Who Lack Capacity (2016). Journal of Law and Medicine, 24, pp. 356-370. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2885590

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/willmott/

Colleen Cartwright

Southern Cross University ( email )

Lismore, New South Wales 2480
Australia

Malcolm Parker

University of Queensland - School of Medicine ( email )

St Lucia
Queensland 4072
Australia

Gail Williams

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

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