End-of-life Care: Ethics and Law
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This book offers an Ethical Framework for end-of-life decision making in healthcare settings. The Framework, consisting of eight Modules of Learning, is a set of educational resources for health professionals, allied professionals, healthcare ethics and law lecturers and students. It aims to foster and support ethically and legally sound clinical practice in end-of-life treatment and care in Ireland. The Framework is the outcome of a unique collaboration between University College Cork, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Irish Hospice Foundation and has benefitted from consultation with ethicists, legal experts, theologians, sociologists and clinicians. It draws on a range of values and principles that have been identified as important considerations in end-of-life decision making by international experts in bioethics and by professional codes of conduct, policy documents and laws. It is also informed by extensive national and international research on patients’ and families’ experiences of death and dying and the contribution of health professionals and organizations to quality end-of-life care.
The educational aim of the Framework is not to tell people what to do, but to offer tools for thinking about difficult ethical and legal issues that arise in relation to death and dying. The objective is to foster a range of ethical skills and competencies to ensure that decisions are arrived at in the most reasonable, sensitive and collaborative way possible. Readers are introduced to the process of ethical reasoning and resolution through interactive learning and reflection on case studies drawn from practice in clinical settings in Ireland and elsewhere. These bring into sharper focus the need for sensitivity to the unique stories and circumstances of individual patients and their families.