Friday, August 28, 2009

Why do I need a medical directive?

The ability of those who provide medical care to prolong life has exceeded the desire some people have to live. It is not uncommon for someone to fear going on life support more than dying. We have all heard stories of people who are sustained on a life support system long past any hope of recovery or return to useful or even functional life. However, the medical community's fear of lawsuits and claims by relatives forces them to be conservative in the extreme. In this atmosphere of countervailing interests, the need for people to control their own lives has created the need for documents directing medical providers with regard to life-sustaining treatment.

These documents are generally known as advanced directives or living wills. Although the term "living will" is used commonly, it is a misleading term. The medical directive gives instructions to care givers and medical personnel during a person's life and does not have anything to do with transferring property at death.

Generally, the medical directive contains language directing medical to avoid "heroic measures" to prolong life in the event a condition is incurable and terminal. Every state has formal requirements for a Living Will to be valid and enforceable. It is a very good idea to consult with a competent legal advisor before signing such a document.


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