Among major Indian cities, Chandigarh least aware about ‘Living Will’: Survey

Dar Ovais
In the Hospital Sick Male Patient Sleeps on the Bed. Heart Rate Monitor Equipment is on His Finger.

Chandigarh knows very little about the concept of Living Will as its level of awareness about it is poorest, a survey has revealed. The survey carried out by Healthcare at Home (HCAH) and guided by End of Life Care in India Task Force (ELICIT), in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur and Chandigarh has found that the awareness levels around the concept of Living Will were poorest in Chandigarh and Jaipur with 31% and 36% respectively. It was also found that the level of awareness about Living Will is highest in Delhi and Mumbai.

A living will, also called a directive to physicians, is a document that lets people state their wishes for end of life medical care, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions. It has no power after death.

With the sample size of 2400 and almost equal number of male and female participants, survey was carried out among the age groups of 25 – 35years, 36 to 50 years, 51 to 60 years, 61 years or more. A year after Supreme Court's judgement on Living Will, HCAH's survey conducted, shows poor awareness around Living Will in the country as it was found that only 275% of Indian were aware about the it.

In March 2018, India's Supreme Court allowed people to draw up Living Wills, meaning they can seek withdrawal of life support.

Dr. Sudanshu Budakoty of PGI says, "There are two types of euthanasia, one is active and another is passive. In active euthanasia a terminating patient's life by giving some kind of drug when doctors know that he is not going to survive and passive euthanasia is the withdrawal of life support of a patient, if the patient is terminally ill and is not going to survive or he is not going to come out of a particular disease. Both are not fully legalised in India."

"In India we do not usually do it even if the family and relatives consent to withdraw the life support of a patient. We are committed to save our patients," he says, adding that I don not think that I has been fully legalised in India there have been several attempts but people have also filed litigations against it.

He added, "There are ways in which withdrawal of life support is possible like in multiple cardiac arrests, if the patient's relatives consent for not resuscitating the patient when the need arises for that and we know that patient is not going to survive and relatives of the patient do not want us to further resuscitate the patient but usually we do not do that, it is our duty to keep patient on life support as long as possible."

After understanding the concept of Living Will 87% people found it relevant for terminally ill patients, long term coma patients or patients of artificial life support with little or no hope of recovery. Interestingly, only 76% people found it relevant for themselves and among those 75% , nearly 91% wished to discontinue any life support system in case they were declared terminally ill on artificial life support with no or marginal hope of recovery.