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  • Writer's pictureYiunam Leung


The Society of Life and Death Education clarifies the concept of euthanasia as below:

Euthanasia, according to the medical profession’s definition, is the direct and intentional killing of a patient at his or her request.

The European Association for Palliative Care (“EAPC”) defines euthanasia as “a physician (or other person) intentionally killing a person by the administration of drugs, at that person’s voluntary and competent request”. In Hong Kong, the Medical Council of Hong Kong defines euthanasia as a “direct intentional killing of a person as part of the medical care being offered”, i.e. killing a patient to end his/her suffering.

In Hong Kong, as in many places in the world, euthanasia is forbidden by law and is also in violation of the code of professional ethics for healthcare workers.

Euthanasia should not be confused with the withholding or withdrawal of futile treatment to a terminally-ill patient. The Hospital Authority concurs with the withholding or withdrawal of futile life-sustaining treatment when requested by a mentally competent and properly informed terminally ill patient; or if the patient is unconscious, decision on the withholding or withdrawal made by clinicians and the family according to the best interests of the patient. In other words, withholding or withdrawing futile treatment for a patient is not performing euthanasia.

What a terminally ill patient needs in his/her final days is not futile treatment, but palliative end-of-life care and a peaceful death.

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