What Is A Living Will and Ethical Implications
What Are Advanced Directives
Advance Directives are documents that help family and doctors follow someone’s medical care wishes. These legal documents take effect when one lacks the capacity to make health care decisions by themselves. While living wills and the like are helpful, there can be several ethical considerations that can make the execution of advance directives hard. Although, advance directives are potentially problematic, having a valid living will or medical power of attorney ready is key to keeping some level of control over their own life when the need arises.
A Living Will, is a document that states someone's preferences in a certain medical circumstances. A Do Not Resuscitate Order can be considered a type of living will that applies only the the medical situation where the patient requires medical care to restart breathing or heart functionality. A medical durable power of attorney is also known as a power of attorney for health care. A durable power of attorney formally designates someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf.
How To Write a Living Will or Power of Attorney
Do you want a basic proclamation of your wishes? Something like “I want all forms of treatment,” are general in nature. Statements such as “I want life-sustaining procedures to be commence and then continued for thirty days at most when my condition shows no signs of improvement," are much more specific.
General statements cause concerns because they give rise to questions about the individual’s intention. In the example, what is meant by “treatment”? Does it mean only things that will improve the underlying medical impairment or does it include life-sustaining treatment as well? Specific statements can also cause issues. An list that does not directly mention the medical situation can cause an ethical dilemma of interpretation. If the event is not specifically mentioned, then does the directive not apply at all?
Ethical Issues of Living Wills
Ethical issues can be raised when the living will conflicts with the spiritual beliefs of the patient, the doctor, or the
facility. Some instructions might be considered a form of assisted suicide, for
example. Furthermore, a patient's living will can result in
an ethical dilemma between following the patient's wishes and the Hypocritical Oath taken by doctors.
A medical power of attorney takes care of some these issues. For example, appointing someone to make informed decisions on your behalf removes the problems caused when instructions are unclear. The designated person's instructions are always the considered the right ones.
Whichever route one goes, getting their living will just right is a tricky path to follow.