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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2016 December;136(3-4):25-38
Advance treatment directives: human rights, ethics and bioethics in an international perspective
Giuseppe R. PARENTE, Stefania C. BELLO, Natascha PASCALE, Emanuela TURILLAZZI, Margherita NERI
Sezione Dipartimentale di Medicina Legale, Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Università degli Studi di Foggia, Ospedale “Colonnello D’Avanzo”, Foggia, Italy
In Italy, the bioethical and legal issues related to the end-of-life decisions have attracted great attention from both the scientific and juridical world, thus sparking a heated debate. In a time when medical progresses enable profound changes of the natural evolution of the final stages of life, death and the personal choices regarding death are affirming as very individual rights. In this context, the theme of the so-called “advance directives” raises critical issues related to their reliability and binding nature but, above all, to the operating instructions contained in the directives themselves when they concern the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment in critically ill patients, such as, for example, artificial feeding and hydration. The aim of our research, performed in medical, legal and bioethical databases, was to provide a multidisciplinary approach to the end of life issues together with an international comparative look. Conclusively, we insist that providinge a comprehensive law on the issue of end of life, in the due respect of the diversity of theoretical approaches and ideals of everyone, cannot be postponed any longer in Italy.