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Respect patient autonomy, P&H court tells insurance firm

Tue, May 24, 2016, 12:43 PM
In a landmark judgement, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that even a terminally ill patient who decides against medical treatment and passes away also needed to be paid the insurance dues for the family.

The High Court dismissed a petition by the Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. The insurance firm argued that the family of a terminally ill insured person that had stopped medical treatment was not entitled for claim after the death of the person.

The court upheld the order of the claims tribunal that had ordered the payment of Rs 35.46 lakh claim in damages.

The court ruled that it was a matter of patient's autonomy for embracing the dignity of death.

The bench of Justice Kannan said: `When the patient shall be allowed to die by withdrawal of life support is quite different from a patient expressing desire not to be treated. In the former, we are broaching issue of passive euthanasia and in the later, it is an issue of patient autonomy.'

The landmark judgement could come as a relief to many families burdened with huge medical costs.

`There have been instances where due to religious beliefs (for example, Jehovah's witnesses denial of blood transfusion), patients have declined to take treatment and courts have confronted these problems as well and come to decisions of hands-off approach,' he said.
Agency: Ap7am Desk

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