A review and analysis of new Italian law 219/2017: ‘provisions for informed consent and advance directives treatment’

BMC Medical Ethics 20 (1):17 (2019)
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Abstract
In December 2017, Law 219/2017, ‘Provisions for informed consent and advance directives’, was approved in Italy. The law is the culmination of a year-long process and the subject of heated debate throughout Italian society. Contentious issues are addressed in the law. What emerges clearly are concepts such as quality of life, autonomy, and the right to accept or refuse any medical treatment – concepts that should be part of an optimal relationship between the patient and healthcare professionals. The law maximizes the value of the patient’s time to decide. Every patient is allowed to make choices for the present as well as for the future, conceived as a continuation of the present, and to decide what comes next, based on what he/she already knows. The law identifies three distinct but converging paths towards the affirmation of a care relationship based on reciprocal trust and respect: the possibility to consent to or refuse treatment, the shared care planning, and advance directives. The fundamental point to emerge from the new Italian law is that consensus is an essential connotation of the treatment relationship. Consensus is not limited to the acceptance/rejection of medical treatment but is ongoing. It is projected into the future through shared care planning and advance directives which act as tools for self-determination and the manifestation of the beliefs and preferences of persons unable to express their will. These principles are in line with the idea of appropriate care as evaluated from two different perspectives, one of scientific adequacy and the other commensurate with the individual’s resources, fragility, values, and beliefs. Surely, however, the new law is not the end of the matter on issues such as conscientious objection, which is deeply rooted within the Italian cultural and political debate. In this regard, healthcare institutions and policymakers will be called upon to develop and implement organizational policies aimed at the management of foreseeable conscientious objection in this field.
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DOI 10.1186/s12910-019-0353-2
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References found in this work BETA

Conscientious Objection in Italy.F. Minerva - 2015 - Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (2):170-173.
When Should Conscientious Objection Be Accepted?M. Magelssen - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (1):18-21.
Conscientious Non-Objection in Intensive Care.Dominic Wilkinson - 2017 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (1):132-142.

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