16th Biennial Conference of the Israel Gerontological Society,
Tel-Aviv, Israel, 2005.
Abstract Book, page 278
New Israeli Law “The Dying Patient” – Possible Solution: Establishment of Relief of Suffering Units for End-of-Life Dementia Patients
B.Z. Aminoff, MD, PhD
Geriatric Division, The Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel
In the first reading of the Law of the Dying Patient passed in the Knesset (2004), the definition of the dying patient reads as “the critical stage of an end-stage patient who is expected to die within 14 days, where more than one essential function has collapsed, and who has a high level of suffering”. This definition is only a compromise with the concept of the sanctity of life, when the spirit of a human being departs this world for the next with dignity and without unnecessary suffering.
The new proposal is an original concept that relates to the high level of suffering, and not to the quality-of-life of an end-stage patient. Many hospitalized patients suffer from poor quality-of-life due to cognitive and functional impairment and many other mental and social problems, but cannot be defined as dying patients. The definition of end-stage patients according to their suffering level would advance medicine immensely as a whole. To date, no definition of suffering exists in textbooks or medical literature, despite daily use of the word by the medical staff and families of patients. Medical personnel and society in general are unaware that there are no tools with which to measure and diagnose the level of suffering in a dying patient. Similarly, there are also no tools available to estimate the 2-week and/or 6-month Survival period of a dying patient.