Life sustaining treatment

A concise overview of key themes in Australian case law regarding the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment appears in a Medical Journal of Australia article this week by Professor Lindy Willmott & Ors. The authors noted that only sixteen Supreme Court decisions address the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from an adult who lacks capacity. The patient’s best interests was directly relevant in eight cases. The identified key themes were:

  • Futile treatment
  • Overly burdensome treatment
  • Quality of life
  • The views of the patient (and family)
  • The interests of others (not relevant)
  • Judicial deference to the medical profession

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