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Legislature passes act giving patients rights on end-of-life care

Legislature passes act giving patients rights on end-of-life care

The Legislative Yuan on Friday passed a patient self-determination act, giving patients in Taiwan the right to stop treatment in five clinical situations at the end of their lives.

The five clinical conditions to which the law applies are terminal patients; patients with irreversible comas; patients in a persistent vegetative state; patients with advanced dementia; and patients with other conditions categorized as incurable.

The act, said to be the first in its kind in Asia, will be promulgated three years after its announcement, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said. The act stipulates that the patient can decide in advance or after consultations with doctors to refuse end-of-life care when facing the five conditions.

Two physicians specialized in fields related to the patient's illness and the patient's hospice care team must confirm the person's condition twice before the patient's wishes are acted upon, the new law stipulates.

In ending a patient's life, the medical institution and physicians involved will not face criminal or administrative liability for their actions unless there was gross negligence, according to the new law. The act also specifies a process for a patient to lay out his own medical plan.

Legislator Tien Chiu-chin said after the bill passed that the new act is not meant to encourage euthanasia or suicide-assisted deaths but rather to give patients the power to end their lives naturally and decide not be kept alive by life support devices.

Legislator Yang Yu-hsin said the act was the first law in Taiwan to focus on the patient and safeguard patients' rights and represented a significant milestone in Taiwan. (By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Kuo Chung-han)


Updated : 2021-09-23 10:18 GMT+08:00