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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 576391, 4 pages
Review Article

Advance Health Care Directives and “Public Guardian”: The Italian Supreme Court Requests the Status of Current and Not Future Inability

1Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic and Orthopaedic Sciences, University of Rome La Sapienza, Viale Regina Elena 336, 00161 Rome, Italy
2Department of Legal Medicine, University of Foggia, Via degli Aviatori, 71121 Foggia, Italy
3Neuromed, Istituto Mediterraneo Neurologico (IRCCS), Via Atinense 18, Pozzilli, 86077 Isernia, Italy

Received 7 December 2013; Revised 29 January 2014; Accepted 1 February 2014; Published 5 March 2014

Academic Editor: Vittorio Fineschi

Copyright © 2014 Francesco Paolo Busardò et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Advance health care decisions animate an intense debate in several European countries, which started more than 20 years ago in the USA and led to the adoption of different rules, based on the diverse legal, sociocultural and philosophical traditions of each society. In Italy, the controversial issue of advance directives and end of life’s rights, in the absence of a clear and comprehensive legislation, has been over time a subject of interest of the Supreme Court. Since 2004 a law introduced the “Public Guardian,” aiming to provide an instrument of assistance to the person lacking in autonomy because of an illness or incapacity. Recently, this critical issue has once again been brought to the interest of the Supreme Court, which passed a judgment trying to clarify the legislative application of the appointment of the Guardian in the field of advance directives.