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Australian Health Minister Calls for Better Informed Consent at End of Life

Posted Dec 13 2012 6:16pm

Australian Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has challenged doctors to better explain to terminally ill patients when treatments become futile.  

Several Australian physicians have recently highlighted the fact that terminally ill patients are undergoing aggressive and uncomfortable treatments even though they are fruitless.  For example, intensive care specialist Peter Saul says some doctors reflect a death-denying Australian culture and offer futile treatment because it is easier than having difficult conversations.

Plibersek said that doctors need to make sure they are acting in their patients' best interests.  "Doctors have to be very sure that what they're doing is what the patient wants and in their best interests. . . .  I would be very disappointed to think that doctors are offering ... treatment, because it's quicker to have the conversation or easier to have the conversation."

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