Law 31/2018 was published on 18 July and it grants a set of rights to people in the context of advanced disease and at the end of life, including the right not to suffer in a continuing, disruptive and disproportionate way.
The main changes introduced by the new law are summarised below.
PEOPLE IN A SITUATION OF ADVANCED DISEASE OR AT THE END OF LIFE
After being informed by health professionals and giving their consent, people who are suffering from an advanced disease or are at the end of their have the right to information on matters relating to their state of health. This information must include the nature of their illness, the estimated prognosis, and the different clinical scenarios and possibilities for treatment.
In cases where an acute state of confusion or the exacerbation of a pre-existing state is clear, the patient has the right to chemical restraint of the symptoms by the use of the appropriate medicines. Physical restraint in the form of immobilisation and physical restriction is exceptional and temporary in nature.
THERAPEUTIC AND DIAGNOSTIC OBSTINACY
Another right that is now recognised is the right of the patient to be treated in accordance with their treatment plan, which defines care objectives and which was discussed in advance between the medical team and the patient, who now has a very active role in his or her treatment.
Above all, the patient has the right not to be subject to dysthanasia (the undue prolongation of life by artificial means in a person who cannot otherwise survive) through the application of measures that prolong or aggravate their suffering in a disproportionate way.
When it comes to informed consent, people who are suffering from an advanced disease or are coming to the end of their life have the right to give their consent to the clinical treatments to which they are subject, provided they have been give information and explanations in advance by the doctor responsible for them and by the multidisciplinary team that is providing the treatment. This consent must be given in writing and it is necessary for two people to witness the signature in the case of treatment that could put the life of the patient at risk.
As long as the patient has been informed in advance and provided with any necessary explanation, the patient has the option, under the terms of the law, to refuse any artificial life support and the and the provision of any treatment that is not proportionate or appropriate...