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Ministry drafts regulations to implement patient autonomy act

2018/05/27 21:47:26

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, May 27 (CNA) The Ministry of Health and Welfare has drafted regulations for the implementation of a new law that stipulates respect for patient autonomy in healthcare, including clear definitions of patient rights to the termination of life-sustaining treatments, as well as artificial nutrition and hydration.

The draft regulations, which the ministry said will be published in the near future, were prepared for the implementation of the new Patient Right to Autonomy Act, which is set to become effective on Jan. 6, 2019.

Under the act, which was touted as the first of its kind in Asia, patients in five clinical conditions who have made an advance decision in healthcare, may have medical institutions or physicians partially or fully terminate, withdraw, or withhold life-sustaining treatments, artificial nutrition and hydration in accordance with the advance decision.

The statutory conditions for such patients are: terminally ill, in an irreversible coma, in permanent vegetative state, suffering from severe dementia, and in other disease conditions that the authorities determine are unbearable or incurable.

Now the ministry further defines the terminally ill patients as those entitled to hospice palliative care. It then defines the patients in irreversible coma and in permanent vegetative state as those in the state of unconsciousness caused by external injuries for over six months and those in such a state caused by non-external injures for over three months without any signs of recovery.

In addition, patients suffering from severe brain damage that can be proven with medical evidence and that is determined as unlikely to regain consciousness, are also included.

Legislation of the Patient Right to Autonomy Act, formed to "respect patient autonomy in healthcare, to safeguard their rights to a good death, and to promote a harmonious physician-patient relationship," was completed in 2015 and promulgated on Jan. 6 the following year.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Elizabeth Hsu)