San Diego Law Review

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These remarks were delivered on March 30, 1990 as the Nathanial Nathanson Memorial Lecture for 1990 at the University of San Diego School of Law. Professor Pedrick discusses and explains his thesis that familiar principles of tort law can be enlisted to better assure that unwanted life support measures either will not be used, or will be withdrawn when that is the wish of the patient or the patient's agent. He suggests that in nearly all states, health care givers are duty-bound under the common law of torts to follow instructions regarding use or nonuse of life support systems from a competent patient. He also analyzes the complex question of whether it makes a difference if the competent patient gives the direction, or if a surrogate decisionmaker gives the direction under a power of attorney or under a previously executed living will.

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