Patients' Rights Versus Family Rights: The Situation in Italy
De Ferrari, F.
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 2004; 23(1): 51-57
The authors, on the basis of Italian legislative and deontological regulation, discuss the problems which are faced in reconciling rights and ethical considerations involving patients and their families. In Italy, with the exception of parents and guardians (for minors and those incapable of consent), there is no family member that Italian law recognises for the purposes of giving consent in the name of another. In all cases, contact with the family must be authorised by the patient in accordance with Law 675/1996 regarding privacy. However, in some situations having the advice of a member of the family can be useful, as it can be of benefit to know the will, tacitly or expressly demonstrated, of the patient. Nonetheless, their opinion cannot be binding on the doctor and he or she is not obliged to request it. Ethically, this usually demands evaluation of almost every case.
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