Advance Healthcare Decisions Bill, A welcome Legal Development In Ireland

Author:Mr Tom Hayes
Profession:Matheson Ormsby Prentice

January 2012 saw the introduction of the Advance Healthcare Decisions Bill 2012 (the "Bill"), a welcome development in an area of legal uncertainty in Ireland. An Advance Decision allows a person to express their wishes regarding medical treatment at a time when they have capacity to do so and can include a wish that certain treatment is not to be carried out or continued in the future. In this way, an Advance Decision benefits those who may not be capable of giving their consent or refusal to treatment at a later date due to an incapacitating accident or illness.

The Bill follows on from the recent introduction of the "Think Ahead" project launched by the National Council Forum on End of Life in Ireland, in October 2011. This initiative encourages people to think about and prepare for their eventual death by providing a form that records a person's treatment preferences, which can then be accessed by named parties or authorised health professionals, if the person is unable to articulate their wishes.

As it stands under Irish law, the information contained in the "Think Ahead" forms or any other Advance Decision, is not legally binding. The Bill, if enacted, will be the first legal framework in Ireland providing for the legal effect of Advance Decisions. It provides that an Advance Decision, where valid...

To continue reading