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College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, CPSM, Life-Sustaining, Statement, Statement on Withholding and Withdrawl of Life-Sustaining Treatment, Critique, Revised Statement, Health Professionals


The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM) recently issued a Statement on Withholding and Withdrawl of Life-Sustaining Treatment (2008). The College should be given enormous credit for trying to provide guidance with respect to physicians' obligations in an area of great confusion and controversy. Unfortunately, however, there are some very serious flaws in the Statement. In this paper, we describe three major problems with it that we believe make the case for the claim that the Statement must be revised. We then provide a revised statement that, if adopted, could represent significant progress as it would provide: greater clarity for physicians and the public; much needed emphasis on the critically important issue of communicating with patients and their families; an ethically and legally defensible position on conflict resolution; and reassurance to many individuals who are feeling very threatened by this policy (that is, many individuals with disabilities). In addition, the revised Statement could serve as a model for other colleges of health professionals to use as the basis for developing their own position statements to help guide their members.