16 September 2021
Article credit: ANMJ
Nurses have a significant role in caring for and supporting patients nearing the end of life.
They are involved in clinical decision-making for these patients, as part of a multi-disciplinary team. They provide clinical care, and recognise and respond to patients’ deterioration. Nurses are also an important source of comfort and emotional support for individuals at the end of life, and their families and support networks.
End of life care nursing practice requires knowledge and understanding of the law on medical treatment decision-making and other legal issues that commonly arise when a person is dying.
However, research shows that some nurses have knowledge gaps and lack confidence in this area.1 The End of Life Law for Clinicians2 training program has been designed to help nurses understand and feel more confident about the legal issues they face in end of life clinical practice.
Decisions about treatment and care for people approaching the end of their lives are a frequent, and often challenging part of clinical practice for nurses. The law plays an important role in these situations by providing a broad framework for end of life decision-making and advance care planning. The law also establishes processes for resolving intractable disputes (for example, with families/support networks or substitute decision-makers) and protects nurses and other health professionals who act within the law.
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