SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Korea Bizwire) – Expectations are the number of terminal patients who refuse life-sustaining treatment will rise going forward.
A bill revising the law pertaining to medical treatment for life prolongation was approved in the parliamentary Health and Welfare Committee on February 22, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. It appears most certain the legal amendment will likewise be approved by the National Assembly and the Legislation and Judiciary Committee on the last day of February.
The bill in question removes restrictions on advance care directives; while only terminal and dying patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, chronic obstructive respiratory illness and chronic liver cirrhosis were permitted to fill out forms declaring their desire to refuse life-sustaining treatment since law enforced on January 4, starting in March patients with any diagnosis will be able to submit advance care directives.
The methods of life-sustaining treatment patients can refuse will be expanded. Under current laws, only the administering or application of CPR, medical ventilators, hemodialysis and anticancer drugs can either be postponed or halted.
However, due to advances in medical research and technology, the use of new treatment methods of life prolongation outside of these four are emerging in hospitals.
To account for this emergent blind spot, the postponement or stoppage of individual medical treatments will be henceforth determined by presidential directives.
The bill also lowers the hurdles for terminal patients receiving hospice care to complete their advance care directives. Instead of having to consult with a supervising physician as well as a third-party medical expert, the fact that the patient has entered hospice care will be taken as evidence of his or her refusal of life-sustaining treatment, and the requirement to consult a third-party medical expert will be dropped.
Actions that constitute punishable offenses for medical professionals will be more clearly outlined, and penalties will be lessened.
Medical professionals who stop life-sustaining treatment against the wishes of the patient or family will see their penalties reduced to 1 year or less in prison and a fine of 10 million won or less from 3 years and 30 million won.
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)