NEW DELHI: Hospitals across the country have initiated a process to frame guidelines for doctors in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court verdict on end-of-life care.
The Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI), the largest body to represent private hospitals in the country, on Saturday decided to form a national and state-level committees to come up with directives on how hospitals and doctors should go about the ruling that empowers patients and their families to decide when the life support can be withdrawn during critical conditions.
“Earlier, hospitals were wary of possible litigation due to the rule of needing to go to the High Court for each case, and this created an environment of mistrust,” said Girdhar Gyani, director general of AHPI. “Now these decisions will be made ethically, with no fear of unnecessary harassment for the treating team.”
Another member of the association said that while the apex court has prescribed strict guidelines about writing and registering an advanced directive or living will, these should mitigate the worry of misuse even though no law in the world is totally immune to misuse.
Pradip Bhattacharya, general secretary elect of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, said, “As intensive care specialists we struggle with the dilemma on what to suggest to families whose kin are critical and often beyond recovery, every day. Hospitals, based on the Supreme Court ruling, should now lay down clear cut protocols on when to pull the plug and what exactly should the doctors’ role be in such circumstances.”