Italian judges can decide end of life care for those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosisby Roberta Lunghini - 2016.12.06
Upon patient request, in Italy, a judge can force healthcare professionals to interrupt life-sustaining therapy to individuals with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Should the patient be unable to communicate his/her wishes, the patient’s caretaker (with power of attorney) will be able to make the decision in his/her place. This is what the Court of Cagliari, Italy, pronounced for a man who was kept alive on an artificial respirator, on the condition that he be given sufficient sedation to avoid pain. The patient, who had been completely dependent on machines, demanded the right to refuse treatment. The court’s decree speaks to the inviolable right of dignity for each human being; which requires the consent of each individual for any therapy, and which allows for the denial of any therapy, even if such denial could cause harm or could put the individual’s life at risk. The refusal of medical-surgical therapies, therefore, should not be confused with euthanasia, even if such refusal causes death. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is defined as a behavior that intentionally shortens one’s life by bringing about a certain death. The choice of this patient, however, involved letting the pathology take its natural course.
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