Bahadur G The Human Rights Act (1998) and its impact on reproductive issues.. Hum Reprod. 2001; 16:(4)785-789

Bhattacharya S, Ghosh C, Khan I, Shrotri M Legal support to gain access to medical treatment in the current healthcare system is unproductive.. Med Leg J. 2019; 87:(2)85-88

Bridgeman J A threshold of significant harm (f)or a viable alternative therapeutic option?. J Med Ethics. 2018; 44:(7)466-470

Dyer C Children's hospital must be allowed to withdraw life support from Alfie Evans, court rules.. BMJ. 2018; 361

Freckelton I Futility of treatment for dying children: lessons from the Charlie Gard Case.. J Law Med. 2017; 25:(1)7-29

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Gillon R Defending the four principles approach as a good basis for good medical practice and therefore for good medical ethics.. J Med Ethics. 2015; 41:(1)111-116

Griffith R Lawfully withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.. Br J Community Nurs. 2013; 18:(12)616-619

Howard DS, Pawlik TM Withdrawing medically futile treatment.. J Oncol Pract. 2009; 5:(4)193-195

Maclean AR The Human Rights Act 1998 and the individual's right to treatment.. Med Law Int. 2000; 4:(3-4)245-276

McPherson K, Carlos WG, Emmett TW, Slaven JE, Torke AM Limitation of life-sustaining care in the critically ill: a systematic review of the literature.. J Hosp Med. 2019; 14:(5)303-310

Paris JJ, Ahluwalia J, Cummings BM, Moreland MP, Wilkinson DJ The Charlie Gard case: British and American approaches to court resolution of disputes over medical decisions.. J Perinatol. 2017; 37:(12)1268-1271

Samanta J, Samanta A In search of a good death: Human Rights Act 1998 imposes an obligation to facilitate a good death.. BMJ. 2003; 327:(7408)

Samanta A, Samanta J The Human Rights Act 1998: why should it matter for medical practice?. J R Soc Med. 2005; 98:(9)404-410

Welie JVM, ten Have HAMJ The ethics of forgoing lifesustaining treatment: theoretical considerations and clinical decision making.. Multidiscip Respir Med. 2014; 9:(1)

Winter SM Terminal nutrition: framing the debate for the withdrawal of nutritional support in terminally ill patients.. Am J Med. 2000; 109:(9)723-726

Woogara J Human rights and patients' privacy in UK hospitals.. Nurs Ethics. 2001; 8:(3)234-246

Dilemmas faced by health professionals surrounding life-sustaining treatment

24 October 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 19

Health professionals often face significant dilemmas while considering the validity of offering or continuing life-sustaining treatment in critical patients (McPherson et al, 2019).

Since the inception of the Human Rights Act 1998, there has been great deal of speculation regarding its impact on medical decision-making, although the true effect may be unknown until a body of case law has developed, illustrating how the legal system interprets the Act (Maclean, 2000; Bahadur, 2001; Woogara, 2001). What is clear, however, is that this Act does not represent anything new, but only reflects, very closely, the existing General Medical Council (GMC) guidelines of Good Medical Practice (GMC, 2013).

Historically, clinical decisions were based upon ethical standards on issues surrounding human dignity and were guided by patients’ consent and best interests. These are largely compliant with the Act. In the future there will be multiple instances where this legislation will be used to challenge medical decisions. It is therefore essential for clinicians to take account of these regulations, ensure their decision-making is transparent and be prepared to withstand scrutiny (Samanta and Samanta, 2005; Gillon, 2015).

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