A law that is coming into effect this weekend requests terminally ill patients to nominate somebody to take decisions on their behalf for their treatment. The British Medical Association has published fresh guidance for doctors regarding this. The BMA guidelines are said to be in the best interests of the patients and are also based on the recent court judgments.
These guidelines by the BMA are concurring with the Mental Capacity Act which is coming into effect from this weekend. Dr Vivienne Nathanson who is BMA's head of science and ethics says that this is the right kind of opportunity one should use to depute someone to take decisions on their behalf when they lose capacity to take decisions.
Dr Nathanson suggests that this opportunity can be made use of by patients who are terminally ill and suffer from a chronic disease. She also feels that this piece of information could be useful to the doctors. According to Ilora Finlay, professor of palliative medicine at Cardiff University, this could provide a baseline for treatment and doctors should continue to communicate to patients on this issue.
The present guidance is the third instance of BMA publishing on this issue since 1999. It says regular updates will be issued to reflect changes in the law as they arise.