Legal Aspects of Life Support

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Legal Aspects of Life Support In "Legal Aspects of Withholding and Withdrawing Life Support from Critically Ill Patients in the United States and Providing Palliative Care to Them," authors John M. Luce and Ann Alpers, present this article to increase an understanding of the legal obligation of physicians and practitioners.
Studies have shown that most patients, who die in intensive care units in the United States, deaths are related to the withholding and withdrawal of life support and also the administration of palliative care. The process through which various medical interventions are withheld or removed from patients with the expectation that the patient will die of an underlying illnesses is withholding and withdrawal of life support. The prevention or treatment of pain or providing comfort during suffering in terminally ill patients is palliative care. Physicians and practitioners are bound by ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. This means their actions are done for the benefit of others and they must do no harm.
There are laws that govern the legal aspects and requirements of these practices in which physicians and other practitioners may not be familiar. The limitations of life sustaining treatments vary from each state and are based on statutory and case law. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution protects a competent person’s right to proceed with treatment which includes nutrition and hydration. The legal aspect of withholding and withdrawing life support is legally justified by informed consent and informed refusal in the United States. These principles state that the approval of the patient or surrogate is needed in order for treatment or refusal to be initiated. The only exception to this principle is in an emergency situation. Another legal aspect of withholding and withdrawing life support is…...

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