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QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series - Thaddeus Mason Pope

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Patient Rights and Healthcare Decision-Making after COVID-19: Transformations and Future Directions?

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The QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series aims to bring together national and international speakers who will explore the personal, societal and governance dimensions of solving real world problems which are influenced by, and through the interactions of science, technology and the law.

The series will host speakers who think about ‘technology' and ‘science’ as broadly construed to refer to methods of framing or interacting with the world, and that enable the critical and imaginative questioning of the technical, science, environmental and health dimensions of law and life.

In this fifth seminar of our series, co-hosted by the Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Thaddeus Mason Pope will discuss how COVID-19 has spurred a renewed focus on protecting patient rights and tackling bigger perennial issues at the intersection of technology and healthcare decision-making.

When: Friday, 20 November - 10am (AEST-BNE time)

Where: Zoom - Meeting ID: 990 8802 2356 / Password: 549877

Abstract: In what ways has COVID-19 changed how clinicians communicate with patients? Has it changed how patients make and record healthcare decisions? Will lawmakers permit these changes to persist after the pandemic?

Historically, war drives technology. World War II, for example, was a time of significant scientific ingenuity. More than 75 years later, we continue to benefit from battle-motivated inventions like synthetic rubber and super glue. Analogously, technological innovation in healthcare communication and decision making is a conspicuous silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, because many COVID-19 patients lose decision-making capacity, there is a renewed interest in advance care planning. To accommodate this demand and facilitate legal formalities during a time of social distancing, many jurisdictions now permit remote witnessing and remote notarization. Growing numbers of individuals are supplementing these written documents with video instructions. Beyond advance directives, clinicians are using visually sophisticated decision aids to assure that patients understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to proposed treatment.

All these tools help increase value-concordant care. They help assure that patients get the treatment they want and avoid the treatment they do not want. But we need legal reform to guarantee implementation of these innovations after the pandemic ends.

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