The World from Berlin: Living Will Law 'Strikes a Successful Balance' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "Zoom
Germany's parliament on Thursday provided legal backing to living wills.
By a vote of 317 to 238, German lawmakers agreed to require doctors to follow a patient's written instructions regarding life support in the case of extreme illness or injury. The decision provides clarity -- and legal backing -- to the some 9 million Germans who have created living wills. Advance health care directives, as living wills are sometimes called, will also be honored irrespective of how far in the past they were composed and without regard as to whether patients were ill or healthy when they wrote them.
In cases where the living will doesn't completely match the patient's illness, doctors are required to consult with the patient's family or caretaker. Disagreements are to be resolved before a special court.
The new regulation also provides a legal foundation for doctors who were unsure to what degree they were required to honor living wills. Still, the German Medical Association, which represents over 420,000 doctors in the country, was critical of the Thursday decision. The group's president, Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe, said that a single law could never regulate all cases and called it a 'pseudo-regulation.'"