NEW DELHI: Indian Council for Medical Research, on Monday, will release a comprehensive document on end-of-life care that will play a significant role in implementing the Supreme Court ruling on “living will”, passed on Friday.
Officials in country’s top health research authority said that the report, to be released in Bengalauru, will define over 25 terminologies related to end-of-life care.
“The council had earlier planned to release it next month but it’s being done immediately now in the wake of the SC ruling as its extremely important that people and particularly medical community and doctors become aware of the terminology related to end-of-life care,” said a senior ICMR official.
“This report will provide clarity on the terms used in providing end of life care which are not understood and not well defined so far,” the official said. “The document will be used forming the processes that emanate out of the law on palliative care.”
The council took over 15 months to frame the report in which recommendations from over 50 experts including those of critical care specialists, bio-ethicists, palliative care experts, researchers and doctors were incorporated.
“The document is extremely important in Indian context now as the terminology used here, even in the Friday’s Court verdict is outdated and does not conform to the glossary used in other countries,” said R K Mani, a critical care specialist who was instrumental in drafting the ICMR report.
“The word euthanasia, for instance, is not used anywhere in the world now as it means intentional act of killing a dying patient with terminal illness by the direct intervention of a doctor for the purpose of good of the patient. However, allowing natural death, withholding and withdrawing of life sustaining treatment to limit harm and suffering in a dying patient should not be construed as euthanasia,” Mani explained.
Likewise, terms like “patient autonomy”, “terminal illness” and “social justice” have also been elaborated upon in the report so that there is greater clarity on the subject.
A palliative care expert from Hyderabad who had also contributed to the making of the report said that the terms like “passive or voluntary euthanasia” are not even recognised in medic-legal literature globally anymore.
“In such a scenario it is important that medical practitioners and people at large get updated with this area of healthcare as one fundamental barrier to proper end-of-life care in India is the lack of clarity on several terms that are often mistaken for euthanasia,” he said.
Interestingly, the report was also submitted to the SC in November last year but the Court, for some reason, still used the old terminology that was in discourse several decades earlier globally, sources said.