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November 1985

Ethics, Law, and Nutritional Support

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC

Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(11):2130-2131. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360110206050

To the Editor.  —The three related articles about termination of artificial nutrition and hydration for the critically or incurably ill in the January 1985 issue of the Archives were quite good in throwing light on both legal and medical facets of decisions to terminate care. I would, however, like to comment on their legal perspective. Also, there appears to be a slight overstatement regarding family members' lack of authority to decide to terminate care for an incompetent relative.In their otherwise excellent article, Professor Rebecca Dresser and Dr Eugene Boisaubin1 state that family members "lack explicit legal authority to make treatment decisions for their incompetent adult relatives" and that they "must be appointed legal guardian" to obtain such authority.By explicit legal authority, Professor Dresser and Dr Boisaubin refer to that authority that would give physicians "certain legal immunity." I do not discount physicians' concerns and fears regarding malpractice,

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