Right to refuse treatment judgement: a cautionary note to aged care providers

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In South Australia, an unnamed woman argued that her nursing home would be breaching the law if it continued to feed her against her express wishes and the court agreed. This has re-ignited the ‘right to die’ debate, just as the West Australian case did last year that gave paraplegic, Christian Rossiter, the right to refuse his food through a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy(PEG) tube inserted into his stomach at his Brightwater facility.

Rossiter died within six weeks of the judgement which was hailed by euthanasia campaigners as a step forward for their cause. The lesson here is to seek legal advice and encourage your residents to file ‘advance care directives’ (ACD’s). There should be no assumptions when it comes to delivering humane and ethical care- a mentally competent adult does have the right to refuse treatment and it is their carers duty to abide by their wishes, but always look to the law before taking any course of action which could have devastating consequences for those involved.

To read more about the stories and ACD’s follow the links below:
Court grants woman right to die
Quadriplegic Christian Rossiter dies of chest infection
Advanced Care Directive Association Inc

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