December 4, 2022

South Korea’s advance directives program goes into effect

A law that allows dying patients to refuse certain forms of life-sustaining treatment has come into effect in South Korea.

The law, which was passed by the National Assembly of Korea in January 2016, allows eligible patients to sign an advance directive indicating that do not wish to receive CPR, haemodialysis, artificial respiration and/or cancer treatment.

To be eligible, patients must be terminally ill with no chance of improvement and must be assessed by two doctors.

The law also allows anyone over the age of 19 to sign a letter of intent indicating they do not wish to receive life sustaining treatment if they become terminally ill in the future.

The law came into effect nationwide on February 4, after a pilot program was run for several months in 13 hospitals.

South Korea is a highly Confucian society, and patients and families have a tendency to continue with futile treatment at the end of life.   

South Korea’s advance directives program goes into effect
Xavier Symons
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