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J Aging Soc Policy. 1997;9(4):29-50.

The failed Patient Self-Determination Act and policy alternatives for the right to die.

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  • 1Department of Political Science, University of Georgia, Athens 30602, USA.


The empirical evidence regarding the implementation and impact of the federal Patient Self-Determination Act is examined in this article. The Act was designed to increase the use of advance medical directives in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's Cruzan decision. Research shows that the law has had little effect and that the use of advance directives has scant relation to medical treatment and care. Various policy alternatives for the right to die are also examined. The authors conclude with an analysis of the likely impact of medical costs, fruitless treatment, and rationed health care on limiting life-prolonging treatment.

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