Tuesday, May 27, 2014

End-of-Life Treatment - "Do Not Resuscitate"?

By:  Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho

What do young doctors think about end-of-life choices?  A Stanford University study determined that 88% of young doctors prefer to avoid resuscitation and related heroic treatments when they have an illness that will result in death in the near future.[1]

Do you want high intensity care when you are terminally ill?   Do you just want the assurance of no pain when your death is near?  These important questions are best answered by you.  If you fail to make these decisions, the legal and medical system makes the election for you and requires in most circumstances that you receive, at a minimum, nutrition and hydration with nose or stomach tubes. 

This problem is easily solved.  Sign a Living Will.  This document goes into effect when a doctor has determined that your death is imminent or you are in a persistent vegetative state.  You are permitted a minimum of three choices, all of which provide pain medication to keep you comfortable.  Choice #1 is to use all the fancy machines and medical procedures to keep you going as long as possible.   Choice #2 scales back to providing you with nutrition and/or hydration with tubes.  Choice #3 is to keep you comfortable, and let you go.  The forms and choices may vary by state.

If you have not completed one of these forms, check with your Secretary of State’s office, they may have forms available. 

You are the best person to make the choice for your end-of-life care.


[1] Do Not Resuscitate:  What Young Doctors Would Choose, by Paula Span, The New York Times, May 20, 2014.

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