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Guidelines for end-of-life care get update

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 20, 2013

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The Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank in Garrison, N.Y., has issued a new version of its influential reference guide on making decisions about end-of-life care.

The first edition of the guidelines, published in 1987, was cited in a landmark 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision on the rights of patients and surrogate decision-makers to refuse life-sustaining medical treatments. The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life, published in April by Oxford University Press, covers topics such as the difference between refusing treatment and physician-assisted suicide, the prognostic implications of different neurological states, and the influence that terms such as “coma” and “brain dead” can have on surrogate decision-making.

“We wrote the new Guidelines for every health care professional responsible for the care of a patient facing decisions about life-sustaining treatment or approaching the end of life,” said co-author Nancy Berlinger, PhD, a research scholar at Hastings. “The book is designed for practical use in hospitals, nursing homes, community health settings, or anywhere that professionals, patients and loved ones need to discuss a patient’s values and preferences concerning different options for treatment and care.”

More information about purchasing the 264-page book is available on the Hastings website (link).

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