stats noob but not a weaboo
Thanks, LMG, for the comprehensive answer.I had to do an ethics essay on almost this exact topic last year!
Things to consider:
Has there been any changes in the wife’s health? Is she deteriorating? What is the context for the request?
Yes, the husband has been providing her care, but is he her formal substitute decision maker? There are criteria to be met for this to be the case.
If yes: does HE have capacity currently to be making such decisions? Is he fully informed, is he unwell, is he under undue pressure (from other family members, financial, emotional)?
In Tasmania (probably elsewhere), if he is her recognised substitute decision maker, and there are no questions as to his own capacity/functioning, then the decision is deemed to be one the doctor must abide by.
Respect for autonomy of decision making extends to that of the substitute decision maker.
Substitute decision makers have a duty to act in the patient’s “best interests”, but this is a difficult concept and varies from patient to patient.
If you, the doctor, are unsure, you can liaise with, and/or refer the case to The Guardianship Board (or your state’s equivalent).
Removal of a feeding tube wouldn’t be considered assisted suicide.