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Monday, December 10, 2012

Case emphasizes need for end-of-life discussions

Have you ever wondered whether it's worthwhile to have a Health Care Directive (also called a health care proxy, personal directive, power of attorney for personal care) made up to express your wishes? If you've ever considered it unimportant,click here to have a look at this article from Right now, the Supreme Court of Canada is deciding an essential issue for all of us. They are looking whether doctors have to listen to the person who was appointed under a health care directive when the doctors think it's time to pull the plug on a person in a vegetative state.

The case centres around Mr. Hassan Rasouli. Mr. Rasouli's doctors believe that he is in a vegetative state and will never recover higher functioning. His wife was named by Mr. Rasouli in a health care directive and opposed the doctors' suggestion that life support be discontinued. Had she given her consent, life support would have been withdrawn, allowing Mr. Rasouli to pass away naturally.

The court will decide whether in a case like this, the doctors need the consent of a substitute decision maker to give treatment that they see as ineffective or inapproprite. In case you are getting the impression that the doctors are fighting to end this man's life, please understand that the doctors need and want this clarification by our  higher court as much as Mr. Rasouli's family - and the families of anyone who is on life support - want it. Everyone needs to know where this issue stands.

Each of us should have this document prepared appointing a trusted loved one or friend, and discuss our wishes with that person.

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