Physicians serve a unique role in society, regularly dealing with matters of life and death, with their main objective being to save lives. But when it comes to a patient becoming palliative, should a doctors mission to save someone’s life change?
In separate cases in Canada and the UK, doctors unilaterally imposed DNR orders without the knowledge or consent of the patient or their legal surrogate. The courts in both countries ruled in favour of the patients’ rights.
The law makes a clear distinction between discontinuing treatment that is no longer of benefit to the patient and taking active and deliberate steps to end the patient’s life.
These countries, with a single-payer health care system, face a very public bottom line: Should taxpayers cover the cost for a family’s indefinite goodbye when a patient is in a persistent vegetative or minimally conscious state?
A government-funded health care system must out of necessity set limits on medical spending. No government can issue a blank check for unlimited medical care for everyone. The only issue is where and how the system sets the limit.
And so the question remains: should doctors be the ones to make decisions about treatment in palliative care situations?
You can find below what the M3 Global Research community of healthcare professionals answered to this question and compare results across Europe, Canada and the United States.
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