Treating terminally ill

New rules for end-of-life care

The National Board of health and welfare has issued new rules for palliative care today that in some cases gives terminally ill patients the right to die. The rules also require that all seriously ill patients should have a specific doctor they can contact.

Patients will be able to stop any life-support treatments, even if it means they could die. But before that type of decision can be made, a doctor must first consult with another licensed professional and the patient's doctor.

But several organizations are criticizing the rules, saying they do not address the ethical issues in an adequate manner.

Ingemar Engström, the head of the Swedish Society for Medicine's ethical delegation, tells Swedish Radio that these types of ethical questions should not be completely given over to doctors. "We must first determine what the patient wants and what the patient's loved ones are aware of," he says.

The new rules for end-of-life care will be implemented on August 15, 2011.