We’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of patients accessing critical care and requiring Life-Sustaining Treatments in the past eighteen months of the pandemic. As a result, hospitals have had to make it easier for patients to make end-of-life decisions when there is little or no chance of recovery. The ICMR released Consensus Guidelines on ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ on February 17, 2020, with detailed rules on when and how doctors can decline cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). However, there is still a vacuum when it comes to concerns like ending life support and other related issues.
The law surrounding the right to refuse treatment has developed over time. No individual should be deprived of her life or personal liberty unless in accordance with legal procedures, according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It is trite to say that this Article includes the right to live in dignity.
Right to a Dignified Death
Despite the fact that the acknowledgment of the right to die with dignity is a significant development in the law, the Supreme Court has placed restrictions on how this right should be understood. To begin with, it has been stated that suicide and active euthanasia are not included by the right to die with dignity.
Second, the decision gives instructions on how a terminally ill patient can create a “living will.” Despite the fact that the ICMR Guidelines take account of the 2018 ruling in Common Cause v. Union of India, Advance Medical Directives such as DNAR forms have yet to receive judicial approval. Despite this, several hospitals have begun to accept DNAR forms in accordance with ICMR guidelines for medical best practises.
During the pandemic, there has been a spike in the number of people who may not be able to be saved by medical therapies and who would like to give Advance Medical Directives for Life Support or ‘Do Not Resuscitate.’ The legal sanctity of any such Advance Medical Directive has yet to be determined by a court, but it is a significant step toward the realisation of the Right to Die with Dignity.