9th August 2021

A free online course on end-of-life law designed to remove uncertainty about patient rights and the legal responsibilities of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals was launched today (9 August).

The End of Life Law for Clinicians course, first launched in 2019 for doctors, has been updated and tailored for all health professionals including medical practitioners and medical students, nurses, paramedics, social workers, speech pathologists, dietitians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and psychologists.

A survey of health professionals, as well as previous research undertaken by QUT, has found significant end of life legal knowledge gaps in these groups.

The course is the result of years of research by QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Researchers Professor Ben White and Professor Lindy Willmott on health professionals’ knowledge of end-of-life law.

It has been developed with QUT palliative care expert Distinguished Professor Patsy Yates and health law researcher Associate Professor Shih-Ning Then.

“All health professionals will at some time in their careers be involved with people in palliative care and nearing the end of their lives,” Professor Willmott said.

“Not knowing the law creates anxiety and risks for health professionals.

“It is an emotionally charged time and lack of knowledge about the law can lead to unwanted or burdensome treatment being given, conflict with patients’ and families, or patients dying in pain.”

“It can also undermine quality of care and prevent patients’ legal rights and end of life choices from being met when they die.”

Professor White said legislators, the medical profession, and the broader community were grappling with significant legal changes involving complex ethical, moral and legal issues in end-of-life decision-making.

The End of Life Law for Clinicians course has ten free 30-60 minute online modules on capacity and consent to medical treatment, withholding and withdrawing treatment, Advance Care Directives, substitute decision-making, providing pain relief, futile or non-beneficial treatment, emergency treatment, end-of-life decision-making for children, and managing disputes. A module on Voluntary assisted dying is under development.

The training also includes new legal cases, clinical case studies, interactive quizzes, resources, and vignettes. Legal differences in all Australian State and Territories are discussed.

For more information contact endoflifelaw@qut.edu.au

QUT Media contacts:

Niki Widdowson, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.

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