April 18, 2005
Advance directives: Useless in most statesTopics: Studies
According to a recent study by the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics (an arm of NRLC), only in 10 states are Doctors required to follow the advance directives of patients when they call for treatment, food, or fluids.
The study finds that the laws of twenty-three states (and two territories), offer "no effective protection of a patient's wishes for life-preserving measures in the face of an unwilling health care provider." In the laws of another two, Texas and Virginia, the doctors must follow the directives of the patient, only while arranging for a transfer to a willing health care provider. If they can not find a willing health care provider within about two weeks (10 days for Texas and 14 for Virginia), then the doctors need no longer follow the patients advanced directive--but legally are allowed to let him or her die. The law in another 15 States, and in the District of Columbia, is so ambiguous that it means whatever is a most convenient interpretation at the time--or in other words, hardly anything. In ten states alone are their laws in place that would protect your directive for lifesaving measures.
The conclusion (according to the study):
Americans are being urged to set down their wishes concerning life-preserving medical treatment, food and fluids in advance directives to avoid the sort of debate over the wishes of a person no longer able to speak for herself that surrounded the case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. To the extent those advance directives call for food, fluids, or life-preserving medical treatment in some or all circumstances, however, in the present state of medicine and the law there is no guarantee they will be honored in most states.
You can read the whole study, (with individual state statues in the appendix), by clicking here.
Cross posted at: Sounding the Trumpet
Posted by joshua at April 18, 2005 10:47 PM
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