From the Euthanasia Society to Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment: End-of-Life Care in the United States

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Abstract

Advances in medical care and increasing prevalence of noncommunicable illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer had raised concerns about respecting the patients’ dying wishes as early as 1938, when the Euthanasia Society of America was formed. Many high-profile cases and landmark court decisions later, there are now several ways in which different states regulate the patients’ end-of-life wishes. How these laws evolved, how seminal cases and medical and ethical advances helped shape the current state of end-of-life legislation, and how patients—especially those with cancer—began adopting various forms of advance directives will be the topic of this article.

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