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The Role of the Patient’s Family, Surrogate and Guardian at the End of Life

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael



The aim of this paper is to explore the intricate issue of the right to die in dignity by focusing on the role of the patient’s family. The paper considers a number of real-life cases. The cases demonstrate the importance of caution in incidents when the best interests of the patient’s family members contradict the best interests of the patient. There is some resemblance between the two American cases: Spring and Wendland. But while in Spring the family was unified in its opinion to stop the patient’s treatment, in Wendland family members expressed contrasting opinions. Two English cases - In Re N and In Re 62-year-old Woman, and a Dutch case concerning Mrs A, highlight the important role of the incompetent patient’s family when members of family are unified in their opinions. These cases lead to conclude, contra Dworkin, that advance directives should be treated with great caution.


Cohen-Almagor, R. (2019). The Role of the Patient’s Family, Surrogate and Guardian at the End of Life. European journal for person centered healthcare, 7(3), 454-465.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 19, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 5, 2019
Publication Date Oct 9, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 5, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 13, 2019
Journal European journal for person centered healthcare
Print ISSN 2052-5656
Electronic ISSN 2052-5656
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 3
Pages 454-465
Keywords Advance directive; Autonomy; Care; Clinical judgment; Compassion; Dignity; End-of-life; Euthansaia; Guardian; Intellectual competence; Patient’s best interests; Patient’s family; Person-centered healthcare; Shared decision-making
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