The “Act on Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment” in Korea and Measures to Support Decision-making of Persons with Developmental Disabilities
The “Act on Hospice and Palliative and Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment for Patients at the End of Life” in Korea was enacted on February 3, 2016. This study examined characteristics of the Act and the methods used to identify patients’ wishes regarding termination of life-sustaining treatment. This study also notes the gap in protection that may arise by not acknowledging the wish presumption or surrogate decision-making of third parties aside from patients’ family members. In particular, persons with developmental disabilities (PDD) are vulnerable to abuse, negligence, or economic and physical exploitation because of their limited cognitive ability, communication difficulties, or lack of family members to represent their wishes. To resolve this issue, this study reviews Korea’s public guardianship service for PDD and physicians in charge of the health of persons with disabilities. This study highlights methods of supported decision-making to guarantee patients’ right to self-determination based on their wish and remaining capacity of PDD in case of decisions on life-sustaining treatment.