NFP 67 Self-determination at the end of life in Swiss law

A critical examination of the legal obligation of having to decide for oneself.

End-of-life medical decisions are closely related to the doctrine of the patient’s right of self-determination. This project examines and challenges this concept from a legal perspective. The key focus of this empirical study is on the needs of dying people and the experiences of medical professionals.

In Switzerland, the patient’s right of self-determination is currently a key factor in determining the admissibility of medical treatment. In recent decades, self-determination has come to play an increasingly important role both nationally and internationally. One provisional highlight linked to the fascinating topic of decisions at end of life can be found in the federal authorisation and regulation of the advance health care directive. It aims to enable individuals to exercise their right of self-determination in relation to their own ability to make a judgement and give consent. This particularly relates to decisions affecting treatment, or the discontinuation of treatment in the final stage of life. Does such an emphasis on self-determination always correspond to the wishes and interests of the patient? And how should a doctor proceed in case of doubt? This project aims to answer these questions.

Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF, NFP 67 "Lebensende"