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ISSN: 2165-7386

Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine
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Short Communication

Medical Ethical Principles may Drive Improvement of Quality of Dying in Hong Kong

Jean Woo1* , Helen YL Chan2, Alice ML Chong3, Mimi Zou4, Roger Y Chung5 and Timothy Kwok1
1Department of Medicine & Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
2The Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
3Department of Applied Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, China
4Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
5School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Corresponding Author : Jean Woo
Department of Medicine & Therapeutics
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Tel: 852-2632 3493
Fax: 852-2637 3852
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: July 15, 2015 Accepted: August 03, 2015 Published: August 06, 2015
Citation: Woo J, Chan HYL, Chong AML, Zou M, Chung RY et al. (2015) Medical Ethical Principles may Drive Improvement of Quality of Dying in Hong Kong. J Palliat Care Med 5:227. doi:10.4172/2165-7386.1000227
Copyright: © 2015 Woo J, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Abstract

Population ageing raises concern regarding the quality of end of life care (EOLC), not only for people with cancer but for all dying of end stage chronic diseases, particularly for dementia. Medical ethical principles, legal and cultural factors affect the quality of end of life care. This article discusses how these three factors currently contribute to EOLC in Hong Kong, in the context of differing trajectories of development in China, other Asian countries, and the USA. EOLC for non cancer patients has only recently been highlighted, where ethical, legal, and cultural issues are being debated. Although there is no statute or case law that directly govern the legal status of advance directives in Hong Kong, a validly made advance directive is generally recognized at common law. However, there is a range of other legal barriers to providing EOLC according to medical ethical principles. There is little discussion among health care providers or the public regarding advance directives, euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, or withdrawal of life support, particularly for those with dementia. It is hoped that a continuing medical ethics discourse regarding EOLC issues may provide momentum to overcome current inertia or avoidance of EOLC issues, such that population aging may not be accompanied by increasingly poor quality of care in the dying process.

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