Legal Myths About Terminating Life Support
Archives of Internal Medicine. 1991 Aug; 151(8): 1497-1502.
There are a number of myths about what the law permits concerning the termination of life support, some of which spring from a fundamental misconception of what law is. A serious misunderstanding of the law can lead to tragic results for physicians, health care institutions, patients, and families. These misunderstandings are (1) anything that is not specifically permitted by law is prohibited; (2) termination of life support is murder or suicide; (3) a patient must be terminally ill for life support to be stopped; (4) it is permissible to terminate extraordinary treatments, but not ordinary ones; (5) it is permissible to withhold treatment, but once started, it must be continued; (6) stopping tube feeding is legally different from stopping other treatments; (7) termination of life support requires going to court; and (8) living wills are not legal.
Advance Directives; Allowing to Die; Artificial Feeding; Competence; Consent; Decision Making; Extraordinary Treatment; Government; Health; Health Care; Law; Legal Aspects; Legal Rights; Legislation; Life; Living Wills; Murder; Patients; Persistent Vegetative State; Physicians; Quality of Life; Religion; Right to Die; Rights; State Government; Suicide; Terminally Ill; Third Party Consent; Tube Feeding; Withholding Treatment; Wills;
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