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'Can a relative override a patient's Advance Care Directive?': end-of-life legal worries of general practitioners and nurses working in aged care.

BACKGROUND: This paper aimed to describe the legal worries of Australian general practitioners (GPs) and nurses regarding end-of-life care provided in the aged care setting.

METHODS: An analysis of responses to the final, open-ended question of a cross-sectional online survey of GPs and nurses practising in aged care settings in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria was undertaken.

RESULTS: Of the 162 GPs and 61 nurses who gave valid responses to the survey, 92% (151 GPs and 55 nurses) responded to the open-ended question. Participants identified concerns across all relevant areas of end-of-life law. The most common concerns were substitute decision-makers or family member(s) wanting to overrule an Advance Care Directive, requests for futile or non-beneficial treatment and conflict about end-of-life decision-making. Participants often also identified concerns about their lack of legal knowledge and their fear of law or risk related to both end-of-life care generally and providing medication that may hasten death.

CONCLUSIONS: Australian GPs and nurses working in aged care have broad-ranging legal concerns about providing end-of-life care. Legal concerns and knowledge gaps identified here highlight priority areas for future training of the aged care workforce.

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