Korean patients can now decide whether to continue medical care that prolongs their lives at the end stage of a serious illness, the government said Friday.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced it would conduct a pilot project in 13 designated medical institutions until next January, during which patients with around six months to live can refuse medical care that potentially extends their lives.
Adults over 19 years old who wish to fill out an advance letter of intent may visit the designated institutions to receive counseling, the ministry said. The pilot project will precede the implementation of the new hospice law that will go into effect next February.
According to the new hospice law, a patient can decide to refuse hospice care such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, hemodialysis, or anticancer drugs when the overseeing doctor and one more professional in a related-field confirm the patient to be in the dying process.
At this time, the patient must express a clear statement that he or she does not want medical care through one of two medical forms designated by the ministry. If the patient is not conscious or unable to express their will to stop treatment, two family members or more may decide on his or her behalf, the ministry said
The forms of consent written during this time will be registered as legally valid documents with the consent of the patient or the patient’s family members, the ministry added.
“We aim to increase the understanding and acceptance of the new law through this pilot project for the smooth implementation of the Health Care Decision Act, and create a culture that cares for one’s last stage in life,” a ministry official said.
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