Backing call for living wills

Editor, The Canberra Times.

The call, by Professor Ken Hillman, (3 January 2011) for a national living-will program to uphold the views of people seeking to die with dignity when at the end stage of their life, and endorsed by your editorial (4 January) must be supported by the medical profession if a patient`s choices are to be genuinely respected,

Information about advanced medical care directives or living-wills, outlining the treatment desired or to be declined, should be sensitively displayed at medical centres and hospital waiting rooms.

As Professor Hillman explains, basic issues such as the patient`s request not to be resuscitated should be entered into the patient`s personal health records and respected by all health professionals involved, such as the local GP, the ambulance officers and the staff at hospital emergency centres.

People seeking the withdrawal of medical treatment at a certain stage (by signing a living- will when they are competent, or appointing a close family member or friend to act on their behalf by signing a medical power of attorney) will gain a greater sense of relief if they know that their personal wishes will be acknowledged by those treating them.

While we all rejoice in a good birth, it`s time we placed emphasis on a good death as well.

– Keith McEwan, CLA member, Oxley ACT

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