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Taiwan changes rules on withdrawal of life support

2012/12/21 18:07:17

Taipei, Dec. 21 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan passed an amendment Friday that will make it significantly easier for artificial life support to be withdrawn in cases of terminally ill and non-cognitive patients, with the aim of shortening their suffering.

The amended Hospice and Palliative Care Act allows for the withdrawal of life support with the consent of a single family member, once at least two specialists diagnose the patients as terminally ill.

Previously, withdrawal of life support in such cases required a jointly signed request by the patient's closest relatives, who could include spouses, adult children, adult grandchildren and parents.

Such requests had to be reviewed and approved by an ethics committee composed of medical, ethics and legal experts and members of the public before the patient could be taken off the artificial life support systems.

The amended law states that physicians should inform terminally ill patients and their relatives of the patients' condition, how hospice and palliative care works, and about their rights and options regarding life support.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Y.F. Low)