In the fifth instalment of our QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series, co-hosted by the Australian Centre for Health Law Research, 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.
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 these patients understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to proposed treatment.
Thaddeus 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 don’t want. But we need legal reform to guarantee implementation of these innovations after the pandemic ends”.
The presentation can be viewed online at The QUTUBE, the official YouTube channel for Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
Thaddeus Mason Pope is a foremost expert on medical law and clinical ethics. He maintains a specific focus on improving medical decision-making and on protecting patient rights at the end of life. Pope is Director of the Health Law Institute and Professor of Law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is also Adjunct Professor with the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at QUT.
Ranked among the top 20 most cited health law scholars in the United States, Professor Pope has more than 225 publications in leading medical journals, law reviews, bar journals, bioethics journals, and book chapters. He coauthored the definitive treatise The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decision-making (Wolters Kluwer, now in its 3rd edition). He also runs the Medical Futility Blog.
About the series
The QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series aims to bring together national and international speakers who will explore the personal, societal and governance dimensions of solving real world problems which are influenced by, and through the interactions of science, technology and the law.
The series will host speakers who think about ‘technology’ and ‘science’ as broadly construed to refer to methods of framing or interacting with the world, and that enable the critical and imaginative questioning of the technical, science, environmental and health dimensions of law and life.