S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소) Development and Society Development and Society Vol.45 No.1/3 (2016)
Legal and Ethical Issues Regarding End-of-Life Care in Korea
- Choi, Kyungsuk
- Issue Date
- Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
- Development and Society, Vol.45 No.1, pp. 151-164
- life-sustaining Treatment; Grandma Kim’s Case; Living Will; POLST; Surrogate Decision-making
- Korea legislated withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment after the Korean Supreme Court Decision on Grandma Kims Case. However, the Proposal for Legislation by the Korean National Bioethics Committee and the Supreme Court decision have some limitations. Both limits the patients ability to decide to withdraw or withhold lifesustaining treatment to cases involving a dying patient who is about to die. The Hospice and Life-sustaining Treatment Act also reflected this limitation. Only POLST signed by competent patients themselves is fully respected as a patients wishes. The Supreme Court decision reveals theoretical confusion between the principle of respecting autonomy and that of a patients best interest. Even though the Proposal and the Act outline certain procedures for surrogate decision-making, they may be problematic in that they place a heavy weight on family members decision making. This limitation should be overcome with ethical, legal, and sociological studies. Despites this limitation, any legislation based on the Proposal was needed in Korea. Building a medical system with better palliative care or hospice care should be emphasized to prevent the abuse of withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. The values of familism should be balanced with those of autonomy.