Advance Directives: A Necessity
Health Rights and Responsibilities
October 20, 2013
Advance directives are common medical documents that assist health care providers in providing care to patients. There are four types of advance directives which are: a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA), Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders (Fremgen, 2009). In this paper, the advance directive called the Living Will will be explained. A Living Will is drafted while a person is still mentally healthy and able to make decisions about their health care. The Living Will expressly details what care that the patient would or would not want in the event of a terminal injury or illness where they would not be able to express their wishes. Each and every person should have an advance Directive or Living Will to take the burden off of their family to make decisions regarding their life. Life threatening illness is an emotional time and can cause great pain if someone is not ready to let go. Advantages and Disadvantages of a Living Will
The advantage of a living will is the relinquishment of the burden to take someone’s life. A living will gives the instruction as to when to continue to fight for life, or when to let it go. Some people want everything possible to be done to keep them alive as long as possible. More informed individuals who understand there are circumstances where there is no hope for recovery will direct that they do not wish to be kept alive through artificial measures. This includes not only a ventilator, but also feeding tubes. Because the part of your brain that controls breathing is in the brainstem away from the part of your brain that makes you conscious and alert, a person can continue breathing and their heart will continue to pump, but their cognitive function can be dead. In this instance, they are no longer going to recuperate. An advance directive can direct that the person is or is not given a feeding tube and allowed to die with dignity. Example of When a Living Will may be Used
In an article by Megan McArdle, an elderly woman who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and had been suffering from its effects for years had set out her wishes with and advance directive years before she was diagnosed. Further into her illness, she began to suffer from Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and became immune to the antibiotics to treat them. Her family would call 911 to have her taken to the hospital to be treated and she would come home afterwards. She decided she did not want this to be done, and she was tired of fighting the battle with MS. She spoke with her doctors and had her lawyer draw up an advance directive that her family should not call 911 should she become ill. She became unresponsive, and the family notified the doctors but the patient was not transported to the hospital. She was put on hospice and allowed to die the way she wanted. Her living will afforded her the right to be home and die with the grace she wanted. (McArdle 2009) This is an instance where the family knew what the patient wanted and had the living will to back that up. The family used the living will to abide by the dying woman’s wishes. If there was no living will, and the patient had merely stated to her family that she did not want to be taken to the hospital and ultimately died, there would be an investigation for elder abuse.
Sample Living Will
Here is a sample of a living will retrieved from http://ag.ca.gov/consumers/pdf/AHCDS1.pdf. 1 — Power of Attorney for Health Care
(1.1) DESIGNATION OF AGENT: I designate the following individual as my agent to make health care decisions for me: Name of individual you choose as agent: ______________________________________________________ Relationship_________________________________ Address:...
Cited: Attorney General State of California. (2004). Advance Directives. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from Attorney General State of California: http://ag.ca.gov/consumers/pdf/AHCDS1.pdf
Mcardle, M. (2009, August 20). The Benefits of Advance Directives. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/08/the-benefits-of-advanced-directives/23617/
Fremgen, B. F. Medical Law and Ethics, 4/e For DeVry University (4th ed). Pearson Learning Solutions.
Retrieved from http://devry.vitalsource.com/books/9781256400837/id/ch13lev1sec9
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