Patient Rights and Healthcare Decision-Making after COVID-19: QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series

First published 3 December 2020

The QUT Faculty of Law and the Australian Centre for Health Law Research (ACHLR) hosted the fifth instalment of the QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series examining transformations and future directions for patient rights and healthcare decision-making after COVID-19.

Guest speaker Thaddeus Mason Pope discussed how COVID-19 has spurred a renewed focus on protecting patient rights and tackling bigger perennial issues at the intersection of technology and healthcare decision-making. He argued that technological innovation in healthcare communication and decision making is a conspicuous silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Pope considered how COVID-19 has altered the way in which clinicians communicate with patients and how patients make and record healthcare decisions. As a result of many COVID-19 patients losing decision-making capacity, there is a renewed interest in advance care planning. To accommodate this demand and facilitate legal formalities during a time of social distancing, many jurisdictions now permit remote witnessing and remote notarisation. Growing numbers of individuals are supplementing these written documents with video instructions. Beyond advance directives, clinicians are using visually sophisticated decision aids to assure that patients understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to proposed treatment.

Professor Pope questioned whether lawmakers would permit these changes to persist after the pandemic. However, he ultimately concluded that technological tools help increase value-concordant care. “They help assure that patients get the treatment they want and avoid the treatment they do not want. But we need legal reform to guarantee implementation of these innovations after the pandemic ends”.

Watch the seminar below or via QUTube.