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Right to a dignified death for patients unable to make a decision

14 December 2022

Issues related to death and dying have aroused serious controversy in legal and medical circles for several years. For political and ideological reasons, the Polish legislator has not yet comprehensively regulated the issue of individual rights in terminal states. The fragmentary solutions contained in the Act of 6 November 2008 on Patients' Rights and Patients' Rights Ombudsman (Journal of Laws of 2009, No. 52, item 417, as amended) should be considered insufficient. The legislator's inactivity does not, of course, mean that the problems in question do not exist. While the issue of the right to a dignified death of patients capable of deciding for themselves (i.e. adults and those with full legal capacity) is sometimes the subject of public debate, the situation of patients included in the so-called vulnerable groups (i.e. minors, partially or totally incapacitated persons, and persons incapacitated for factual reasons to give their consent or objection) remains outside the main framework of the discourse. Under the current state of the law, this is a difficult area of intersection between different legal norms, especially those contained in the Criminal Code, the Family and Guardianship Code, as well as medical law and so-called deontological norms. The purpose of this article is to present the issue of an individual's right to die with dignity, taking into account the special situation of patients incapable of making a decision for formal reasons, i.e. minors and those who are partially and totally incapacitated. Outside the scope of the article, however, is the question of persons who are unable to give consent or objection for factual reasons.

http://psjd.icm.edu.pl/psjd/element/bwmeta1.element.psjd-8d1103d2-de91-46c5-a409- 22ca804e5e65