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Doctors seek to create consensus on issues related to ‘End of Life Care’

New Delhi: In order to create greater awareness and a nationwide consensus about the difficult ethical, legal and medical issues in the ‘End of Life Care’ in India, the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine (ISCCM) and the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) have published a joint position statement in the September 2014 issue of the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine (IJCCM). The two societies now intend to involve other national medical societies in this effort.

According to a statement by ISCCM and IAPC, medical decisions around terminal illness are emotive issues for patients, families and care givers. The quality of care dying patients receive is an important indicator of the health of our society. Unfortunately, India figured 39th in a list of 40 countries evaluated for “quality of death” in an international study conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit in 2012.

Explaining the issue, Dr Rajesh Chawla, chancellor, Indian College of Critical Care Medicine, said: “Recently there has been discussion on the controversial issue of euthanasia. The medical profession does not endorse euthanasia but wishes to draw the attention of the public to a more important issue which is referred to as end of life care.”

“All over the world there has been a movement away from applying aggressive treatment to persons dying from incurable disease. By current estimates such deliberate withholding or withdrawal of life support happens in 75-90% of ICU deaths. This practice is called limiting life support or foregoing of life support that is applied in many countries with appropriate supportive legal framework,” said Dr Chawla.

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