THE CHANGES WE NEED IN OUR SO­CI­ETY

CityPress - - Voices -

The first change would be for doc­tors and health­care work­ers to be trained to be com­fort­able with having “end-of-life” dis­cus­sions. In a 2010 sur­vey of 1 000 doc­tors in the UK, as many as two-thirds re­sponded that they were ill at ease with having end-of-life dis­cus­sions with their pa­tients. Health­care train­ing needs to bal­ance life-sav­ing train­ing with a readi­ness to help peo­ple die bet­ter deaths. Med­i­cal aid schemes could play a sup­port­ive role by having a recog­nised code to re­im­burse doc­tors for such con­sul­ta­tions.

En­cour­age ev­ery ci­ti­zen older than 18 to have a liv­ing will, also known as an ad­vanced di­rec­tive, in place. In La Crosse in the US state of Wis­con­sin, physi­cians there have cam­paigned since 1985 that ev­ery adult should con­sciously sign off on their end-of-life pref­er­ences.

There are var­i­ous ben­e­fits in­clud­ing peace of mind for one­self and clar­ity for the fam­ily on what to do in case of emer­gency. There seems to be a pos­i­tive im­pact on longevity, and data in­di­cate end-of- life health­care costs are re­duced.

Strengthen the le­gal stand­ing of the liv­ing will doc­u­ment. In South Africa, it merely serves as a guide­line for doc­tors and does not need to be com­plied with as is the case in other coun­tries.

A new le­gal dis­pen­sa­tion that sanc­tions as­sisted dy­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, as­sisted dy­ing in­volves a doc­tor “know­ingly and in­ten­tion­ally pro­vid­ing a per­son with the knowl­edge or means or both required to com­mit sui­cide, in­clud­ing coun­selling about lethal doses of drugs, pre­scrib­ing such lethal doses or sup­ply­ing the drugs”.

The has­tened death may be aided by a physi­cian and is some­times called vol­un­tary eu­thana­sia.

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