South African scandal after nearly 100 mental health patients die

The Guardian, 2 February 2017
Source: Agence France-Presse
“At least 94 patients with mental health issues died after South African authorities moved them from hospitals to unlicensed health facilities. Many of the deaths were due to pneumonia, dehydration and diarrhoea. The centres also failed to provide seriously ill patients with enough food and water, leaving them severely malnourished, underweight and in some cases dying from dehydration.”
Find article here.

Legal opinion throws status of living wills of patients in vegetative state into doubt

BMJ 2016; 355: i5875
Author: Clare Dyer
“A legal provision that obliges doctors to honour a patient’s “living will” refusing artificial nutrition and hydration seems to conflict with a Court of Protection practice direction stating that all cases concerning the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment from patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state should go to court, a senior judge has pointed out.”
Find article here.

Dutch may allow assisted suicide for those who feel life is over

Reuters, 12 October 2016
Author: Toby Sterling
“The Dutch government intends to draft a law that would legalize assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life,” but are not necessarily terminally ill, it said on Wednesday. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia, in 2002, but only for patients who were considered to be suffering unbearable pain with no hope of a cure.”
Find article here.

Patients With Dementia Present Communication Challenges In Hospice Care

KHN, 7 September 2016
Author: Rachel Bluth
“Hospice’s purpose, at least one of them, is to ease a dying patient’s pain at the end of life and improve the quality of that life. But what’s to be done when a dementia patient in her waning days can’t communicate her pain or help identify the cause? Or resists taking medications? Helping a dementia patient in pain can be challenging for hospice care providers, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias.”
Find article here.

Perceptions of the general public and physicians regarding open disclosure in Korea: a qualitative study

BMC Medical Ethics BMC series – open, inclusive and trusted 2016 17:50
Authors: Minsu Ock, Hyun Joo Kim, Min-Woo Jo, Sang-il Lee
“Experience with open disclosure and its study are restricted to certain western countries. In addition, there are concerns that open disclosure may be less suitable in non-western countries. The present study explored and compared the in-depth perceptions of the general public and physicians regarding open disclosure in Korea.”
Find article here.

Background Paper: Review of the Guardianship Act 1987

NSW Law Reform Commission, news 12 July 2016
“On 30 June 2016 we released Background Paper: Review of the Guardianship Act 1987. …The Background Paper is the first in a series of papers that we will be releasing and provides an overview of guardianship law in NSW. …We have also created a survey which corresponds with the Background Paper. The survey is a way to express your opinions about guardianship arrangements in NSW without making a formal submission.”
Find paper and survey here.

Hundreds more baby deaths revealed in Victorian hospitals

SMH, 28 June 2016
Author: Julia Medew
“Inadequate medical care, hospital delays and poor resuscitation procedures are contributing to hundreds of infant deaths in Victorian hospitals, disturbing new data shows. A state government report that dwarfs the recent baby death scandal at Bacchus Marsh Hospital reveals 281 deaths between 2008 and 2013 involved “contributing factors” including inadequate clinical monitoring, misinterpretation of tests and delayed caesarean procedures.”
Find article here.

Physician-assisted dying will be guided by Court ruling for now

CMAJ, online 13 June 2016
Author: Laura Eggertson
“Canadian doctors are now free of the threat of criminal prosecution if they assist patients in ending their lives, following the federal government’s failure to pass legislation governing assisted dying by a June 6 deadline. The Supreme Court of Canada imposed the deadline after striking down sections of the Criminal Code that pertain to assisted suicide in February 2015. The so-called Carter decision specifies that doctors may assist competent adults who clearly consent to such aid if they have “grievous and irremediable” medical conditions that cause enduring, intolerable suffering. That decision now guides doctors in the absence of a federal law.”
Find article here. See also BMJ article ‘Failure to enact assisted suicide law leaves Canada’s doctors in limbo’ here.

California Enacts Right-to-Die Law

WebMD, 9 June 2016
Author: Dennis Thompson
“California on Thursday becomes the fifth and largest state in the country to allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives. With the state’s right-to-die law in effect, the percentage of terminally ill U.S. adults who can ask for medical aid in dying will leap from 4 percent to 16 percent, according to advocacy group Compassion & Choices. As many as 34,000 terminally ill Californians per year are expected to ask their doctors for information about the law, according to the group.”
Find article here.

Capacity and consent: new tool to support your decision making

GMC, online 6 June 2016
“Does my patient have capacity to make this decision about their care? Is there a valid and applicable advance refusal of treatment? What should I do if my patient lacks capacity to consent to treatment and no one has been appointed to make decisions for them? If you are in doubt about your patient’s capacity to make a decision about their treatment, a new interactive online tool will help you identify the steps you need to take.”
Find information and decision support tool here.