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Two steps forward, one step back: advance care planning, Australian regulatory frameworks and the Australian Medical Association

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The Australian Medical Association has recently adopted a policy position concerning advance care planning, which is generally supportive of extending patient self-determination beyond the loss of decision-making capacity. It calls for uniform national legislation for legally enforceable advance health directives (AHD), and statutory protection for practitioners who comply with valid AHD, or who do not comply on several grounds. Analysis of the grounds for non-compliance indicate that they undermine patient autonomy, and aspects of the policy are inconsistent with current common law and statutory regimes that allow an adult to complete a legally binding AHD. The policy therefore threatens the patient self-determination, which it endorses, and places doctors who participate in advance care planning at legal risk.

Keywords: Australian Medical Association; advance care planning; advance health directives; enduring power of attorney; good medical practice; patient autonomy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of Law, Macquarie University, Sydney 2: School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland 3: Aged Services Learning and Reseach Collaboration, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, New South wales, Australia

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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