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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 32-39

Legal issues in end-of-life care: Current status in India and the road ahead

Institute of Anaesthesiology, Pain and Perioperative Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anjali Gera
Senior Consultant, Institute of Anaesthesiology, Pain and Perioperative Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi - 110 060
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmrp.cmrp_108_22

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End-of-life (EOL) care is a multidisciplinary approach to provide 'whole person care' to individuals with advanced, progressive, incurable or life-limiting illnesses to prevent or relieve suffering with a goal to reduce suffering as much as possible while respecting the patient's wishes. The focus is on comfort, symptom control and quality of death (QOD) rather than actual treatment or prolonging life. It includes withholding or withdrawing life support treatments and initiating palliative care in terminally ill patients. However, lack of awareness amongst people and healthcare workers and inadequate legal framework are barriers to ensuring good QOD. All these issues result in a prolonged stay of terminally ill patients in intensive care units, high financial costs and emotional stress to the family, resulting in an excessive burden on the healthcare system. EOL care poses numerous legal and ethical problems for physicians. It is critical in therapeutic decision-making to protect the rights, dignity and vigour of all individuals concerned, including the patient's family members and the society. Physicians must comprehend the concepts of relevant legal and biomedical ethics to solve EOL care issues.

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