Medical advisory to doctors soon on when to pull plug on life support

India’s apex medical research organisation will notify next month the conditions under which doctors can withdraw life-sustaining treatment for terminally ill patients.

Once notified, the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) new glossary will become a reference point for doctors in determining limitation of treatment and providing palliative care at end of life.

“The draft definitions are being reviewed before getting approved and notified in January,” said Dr Roli Mathur, who is supervising the project.

Withholding or withdrawing artificial life-support is different from euthanasia — or mercy killing — where life is ended actively and intentionally to relieve pain and suffering. Euthanasia is illegal in India.

A panel of experts set up by ICMR in January took eight months to draft the definitions based on accepted international definitions and national consensus.

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