Chinese city adopts ‘right to die’ protection against ‘excessive life saving’

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, considered a special economic zone by China’s central government, recently became the first community in China to pass regulations protecting a person’s “right to die”. world times reported on Tuesday, noting that the new legislation aims to help terminally ill patients refuse “excessive life-saving treatment.”

“According to the revised medical regulations of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, if a patient does not want medical personnel to ‘perform unnecessary resuscitation’, the hospital should respect that wish and allow the patient to die peacefully,” the official said. Chinese government. world times relayed on July 5.

Citing unnamed “experts” on the end-of-life protocol, the Chinese Communist Party-controlled newspaper claimed that Shenzhen’s new “right to die” regulations “are intended only for palliative care patients, and by definition, this type of care is used at the end of an incurable disease, when the patient’s condition is irreversible even with the use of the most advanced modern medicine available.

Many countries around the world, including several Western countries, currently allow people to sign “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)” documents which essentially grant the signatory the right to refuse life-saving treatment in advance if they enter in a state of terminal illness in the future. .

The world times described Shenzhen’s new “right to die” regulations on Tuesday as a kind of “DNR”, noting that the agreement “is a document that a person signs in advance, while being aware and conscious, specifying the kind of medical care she wants or doesn’t want at the end of an incurable illness.

“Shenzhen’s ‘right to die’ legislation has transformed the abstract rights of people enshrined in Article 130 and Article 1002 of China’s Civil Code into a specific embodiment,” said Liu Ruishuang, deputy director of the Department. of medical ethics and law from the School of Health Humanity. at Peking University in Peking, told the world times the 5 of July.

“[B]By allowing critically ill patients to decide whether they wish to receive life-prolonging treatments, the legislation protects their right to self-determination and the dignity of life,” Liu continued.

“[U]Like euthanasia, in which patients can be “deprived” of life by other people such as relatives or friends, it is the patient himself who makes the decision whether or not to proceed. medical treatment in the case of this legislation,” she said.

Liu acknowledged that Shenzhen’s new “right to die” legislation “needs more detailed and specific rules for practical implementation.”

“For example, how do you define ‘the last stage of life of a critically ill patient’? Perhaps we could ask medical experts to list the circumstances in which patients can refuse life-prolonging treatment,” she suggested.

The New YorkerJiayang Fan of Jiayang pointed out in March 2020 that Chinese public hospitals generally lack “consistent palliative care”. She interviewed Song Jianguo, a former director of a respiratory ward at a hospital in Taiyuan, which is the capital and largest city of Shanxi Province in northern China.

“Song, who was in his early 60s, had just retired, having been diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer,” Fan noted.

Relating to Song’s assessment of end-of-life care in China, Fan wrote:

“It’s something we should talk about more openly in this country,” he said, noting that even in a hospital of this size [in Taiyuan], there was no consistent palliative care. Again, skewed incentives were part of the problem: Doctors earned far less for prescribing painkillers than for prescribing chemotherapy or surgery. […]

He feared that deepening distrust of doctors would undermine end-of-life discussions: “It’s impossible when the patient or the patient’s family thinks every moment, oh, does the doctor says there’s nothing we can do because it really is or because he doesn’t think he’ll earn enough to be worth his effort? »

[…] “Everyone should know what’s coming. When that day comes, we need to know the difference between giving up and letting go.

Taiyuan is about 300 miles southwest of Beijing, the national capital of northern China. Taiyuan is located about 1,200 miles north of Shenzhen, which is a southern metropolis connecting China and Hong Kong. Shenzhen has an estimated population of 12.6 million, meaning its new “right to die” legislation will potentially impact large numbers of people.

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