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The Criminal Justice System and Health Care$
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Charles A. Erin and Suzanne Ost

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228294

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228294.001.0001

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Medical Treatment at the End of Life—A British Doctor's Perspective

Medical Treatment at the End of Life—A British Doctor's Perspective

(p.165) 9 Medical Treatment at the End of Life—A British Doctor's Perspective
The Criminal Justice System and Health Care

Michael Wilks

Oxford University Press

The rising number of prosecutions for medical manslaughter understandably is a matter of concern within the medical profession, and the complex ethical issues with which a medical professional must contend when confronted by a patient requesting assisted dying can only be exacerbated by the knowledge that his consequent actions may educe criminal liability. This chapter provides a UK clinician's perspective on these issues, and identifies three key issues in regard of the way ethical principles impact upon clinical practice at the end of life: greater demand, and respect for ‘patients' rights’; advances in medical practice that prolong life; and the Human Rights Act 1998. Together, these elements can lead to tensions for a doctor trying, at one and the same time, to respect his patient's vulnerability, assist the patient in articulating his or her authentic wishes, and to follow these wishes while remaining within the law.

Keywords:   assisted dying, euthanasia, withdrawal of treatment, patients' rights, Human Rights Act 1998

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