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June 01, 2013

Hastings Center Guidelines: A Fresh and Timely Look at Care Near the End of Life, in a New Edition of a Classic Work

Revised and Expanded Second Edition
by Nancy Berlinger, Bruce Jennings, and Susan M. Wolf
Oxford University Press, 2013

This major new work updates and significantly expands The Hastings Center’s 1987 Guidelines on the Termination of Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care of the Dying. The 1987 Guidelines became a major benchmark for addressing the many ethical and legal questions that arose from the care of the dying in high-tech, modern medicine. In the last quarter century, the landscape of care delivery and the ethical challenges faced by health care professionals, patients and families have continued to evolve and become ever-more complex. A review and update of the Guidelines were needed.

Like its predecessor, this second edition will shape the ethical and legal framework for decision-making on treatment and end-of-life care in the United States. Charlie Sabatino, Director of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, and Gloria Ramsey, a Commissioner of the Commission on Law and Aging, were both Working Group members for this edition of the Guidelines, lending their experience and expertise to the project.

This ground-breaking expansion of the Guidelines incorporates 26 years of research and innovation in clinical care, law, and policy. It is written for physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals and is structured for easy reference in difficult clinical situations. It supports the work of clinical ethicists, ethics committee members, health lawyers, clinical educators, scholars, and policymakers. It includes extensive practical recommendations. Health care reform places a new set of challenges on decision-making and care near the end of life. The Hastings Center Guidelines are an important resource.