Medical alliance calls on people to sign 'do not resuscitate' orders
Central News Agency
2013-03-05 12:17 AM
Taipei, March 5 (CNA) A healthcare alliance called on people in Taiwan Monday to obtain do-not-resuscitate orders, which it said could help ease the suffering of terminally ill patients and allow greater freedom for their family members when making decisions to end lives. Only 140,000 people in Taiwan have signed DNR orders, which instruct medical personnel not to use invasive techniques or excessive resuscitation efforts on them if they are in critical condition, the Taiwan Alliance for Healthcare Excellence said. Over 1,000 volunteers from the alliance will launch the promotion of DNR orders in Taiwan, which could help save medical resources in the country, it said. The DNR orders will be noted in the national health insurance cards carried by people who have signed the end-of-life documents, the alliance said. If family members are not willing to let their loved ones go, seriously ill patients will not be able to rest in peace, Lien Jui-meng, the alliance's president said. Lien urged hospital officials to help people face the issue of death by encouraging them to refuse futile treatment. Medical teams will hold two one-hour sessions with relatives when decisions need to be made about the final stage of life related to terminally ill patients, said Huang Sheng-jean, the superintendent of National Taiwan University Hospital's Jinshan branch. The more relatives and close family members come to understand the medical teams' explanations, the less likely medical disputes will occur, Huang added. Relatives normally insist on keeping their loved ones alive, and children of patients at the end of their lives are labeled as unfilial if they decide to end treatment, Huang said. Over 95 percent of terminally ill patients, however, end up dying or falling into a vegetative state if saved, Huang said. Health care fees for vegetative patients reach around NT$600,000 (US$20,187) to NT$700,000 per year, which could pose a heavy financial burden on family members, he added. In addition to the elderly and terminally ill, young people are also encouraged to obtain the order to deal with illness and eventual death, he said. An amendment to the "Hospice Palliative Care Act," which took effect earlier this year, requires only one family member who is the terminally ill patient's next of kin and two doctors to forgo emergency resuscitation, according to the Department of Health. (By Chen Ching-fang and Maia Huang)
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