Passive euthanasia: Doctors welcome SC judgement

Doctors in medical hub have welcomed the Supreme Court’s legal sanction to passive euthanasia permitting 'living will' by patients on withdrawing medical support if they slip into irreversible coma.

Vinobha K T | TNN
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MANGALURU: Doctors in medical hub have welcomed the Supreme Court’s legal sanction to passive euthanasia permitting ‘living will’ by patients on withdrawing medical support if they slip into irreversible coma. But lawyers had their own set of reservations.

Noted physician Dr B Srinivas Kakkilaya said the Supreme Court verdict will reduce the dilemma of the kin.

“Passive euthanasia through living will by a patient, who is fully conscious, fully oriented and fully aware, should be allowed. That is a welcome judgement when the cost of healthcare is going up. Unnecessary ventilation and other things can be avoided, if the patient has written the will on his own earlier. Implementation is not very easy. For example, a patient has written a will and it was given to a family member. When the patient is taken to the hospital, it is left to the hospital and family members to execute the will,” Dr Kakkillaya said. ”

This will definitely ease the burden on the relatives and it will reduce their guilt, he said. “It is a welcome move, particularly in cases when families are not able to afford care for terminally ill patients. It is not a passive euthanasia in the true sense, it is partial. No relatives can demand for it,” he added.

Dr Edmond Fernandes, CEO, CHD Group, “The SC ruling regarding passive euthanasia is something which was long overdue. When the state or the household concerned cannot manage escalating costs to keep a comatose patient alive and when the patient doesn’t even know that he lives, it is nothing, but the right thing to do, in spite of ethical noises made intermittently.”

IMA member Dr Annayya Kulal said it is a welcome move since hospitals are always being criticized for keeping patients on ventilator. “People blame hospitals whenever a terminally ill patient is put on ventilator. People blame that hospitals put patients on ventilator only to make money. In fact, all doctors have to follow ethics and it is not possible for them to remove ventilator. The Supreme Court verdict has allowed patients to decide whether life support should be used or not on him. Overall, it is a welcome move for hospitals, patients and their relatives,” Dr Kulal said.

But Lawyer Vivekananda Paniyala said: I’m afraid whether this development is going to impact the human values in a family oriented society like India. Due to lack of robust certification system there is a danger of abuse besides raising serious ethical issues inside the family,’’ he said adding that the issue needed deeper introspection.

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