Medical sector lawmaker David Lam on Friday backed the government's plan to establish a legal framework for advance medical directives (AMD), which enable people to set out their wish not to have certain medical interventions when they are dying.
While the SAR currently has no legislation on advance directives, the Hospital Authority allows people to draw up such documents in accordance with common law practices.
Lam told RTHK that a legal framework could reduce the risk of confusion between healthcare professionals and patients' families during end-of-life care.
"If there is a definite law that makes the AMDs legally binding, it will be easier for the doctors and the nurses to just say, that is the wish of the patients and we really have to respect it not only in terms of ethics, but it's also by law. That is to assist us to uphold the patient's last wish," he said.
In a bill to be scrutinised in the Legislative Council on December 6, the government also proposes an electronic version of the paper-based advance directives used at present.
A patients' rights advocate from the Society for Community Organization, Tim Pang, welcomed this idea, saying it would be more convenient for doctors.
"Because medical staff could easily access the electronic database to [determine] the preferences of the patients and it will help keep a clear record," said Pang.
According to government figures, 1,742 patients in public hospitals made advance directives in 2021, up from 325 in 2013.