End-of-life ethics need review, say medical experts
Does a bedridden patient suffering from pain and being sustained through tube feeding, have the right to refuse such sustenance?
Yes, said Associate Professor Chin Jing Jih, a senior geriatric specialist at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Tube feeding is not natural and is considered medical treatment. Patients have the right to refuse it, even if it leads to their death, he said. Hospitals have ethics committees that can help doctors make such decisions.
Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, the director of medical services at the Ministry of Health, said similar support is needed for decision making outside of hospitals.
Speaking at the opening of the three-day 13th International Conference on Clinical Ethics Consultation at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel yesterday, Prof Ong said with Singapore's rapidly ageing population, there is some urgency for the population to talk about what it wants done in such cases.
He said the National Ethics Capability Committee, set up in 2014 to design a framework to equip professionals with understanding of clinical ethics that will guide their practice, had just submitted its report to the ministry, which is reviewing it. - THE STRAITS TIMES
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