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Refusing and Withdrawing Medical Treatment

Historical Background, The Ethics Of Refusing And Withdrawing Treatment, Summary

Decisions to withhold or withdraw medical treatment are now commonplace, and both legal and ethical support for such decisions is well established. Even in the case of medical interventions necessary to sustain a patient’s life, it is generally acknowledged that ethical and legal backing exists for decisions to forgo treatment and allow a patient to die. At the same time that law and ethics have sought to protect the patient’s or surrogate’s refusal of medically beneficial interventions, patient and family requests for nonbeneficial treatments have generally not been recognized by ethical standards of the professions, health care institutions, or the courts.

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