Although a lot of people have heard and known about what a living will is and what it is for, not everyone is really familiar with its scope. The saying “knowledge is power” is definitely applicable in such situation. So before you go ahead and draft one for yourself, be acquainted with the contents of living wills first. This way, you would be more knowledgeable about how they can be of assistance to you and your family when that difficult moment turns up.
The most significant aspect of creating a living will would probably be the part that involves deciding what you want to come about in case you fall into a terminal illness or coma. Although you alone can determine what is in fact best for you, with regard to medical treatment, this right can be easily stripped off of you in the face of incapacitation.
Some people would refuse to receive life-prolonging measures if the most wanted quality of life cannot be brought back. Others, however, would prefer the exact opposite. Whichever option a person would choose, let it be known that it is his or her right to come to a decision with regard to health care. Nevertheless, if the ability to communicate his or her preferences is taken away, then that is where the serious difficulty starts – the determination of whether to prolong life the life of a loved one or not.
The wide variety of disabilities leaves the contents of living wills more vulnerable to disputes between doctors, family members and patients. More often than not, people hold different points of view and expectations with regard to serious medical conditions. In addition, some types of permanent infirmities and chronic ailments are more manageable compared to others and should basically be viewed on a case-to-case basis.
A living will should contain the kind of circumstances a person would wish to endure. They should be in writing and should be defined in specific terms using the following criteria: type of illness or injury, severity, and prognosis (particularly pertaining to irreversibility or permanence).
On top of that, the narrative should be comprehensible and purely medical. Steer clear of statements like “I do not want to be in a persistently hopeless state” as they are more unclear compared to straightforwardly saying no to the application of a mechanical ventilator.
In general, it takes a considerable amount of time to precisely determine if a patient will remain in bad shape permanently or if a certain degree of recovery is probable. In a lot of cases, a definitive diagnosis is usually formed after weeks of close observation. A person’s medical condition, however, may change without warning – either for the better or for the worse. That is why it is vital not to indicate time restrictions in your living will.
Instead, build your request or refusal for treatment on the possibility of recovery, the probability of enduring discomfort or pain, and the professional opinion of the attending physicians. Other causes of treatment refusal may include the lack of merit for the risk or pain, and the distressing state of treatments (i.e. hemodialysis sessions).
Although the contents of living wills are similar in most cases, the state laws may involve several additions or specifications in the forms. For this reason, it would also be an excellent idea to gain knowledge about state-specific policies.