How to Die Without a Lawyer by Mary Clement

How to Die Without a Lawyer by Mary Clement

Author:Mary Clement
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: 2009-07-11T16:00:00+00:00


Q. At what point would my physician withhold or withdraw treatment if I have executed a living will?

A. Your attending physician can withhold or withdraw treatment if you lack the capacity to make your own medical decisions AND you are:

1. in a terminal condition;

2. permanently unconscious;

3. minimally conscious but have irreversible brain damage and will never regain the ability to make decisions and/or express your wishes; or

4. in a condition such that life-support procedures would be medically futile.

Q. What are some of the treatments I might want to refuse, since they would only prolong the dying process and offer no improvement to the underlying condition?

A. The following are many of the most common forms of life support:

artificial respiration

artificial nutrition and hydration (tube feeding)

cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

antipsychotic medication

electric shock treatment





blood transfusions



chemotherapy and radiation


treatments to rejuvenate organs

Q. If I currently have a terminal illness, do I need to be more specific about what treatments I wish to avoid?

A. Yes. If you have a condition where the prognosis and the available treatment options are known, you may wish to make advance refusal of specific treatments. Suitable wording should be devised with your doctor and added to your living will. Also, consider including your health care agent in conversations with your physician.

Q. What other personal instructions might I include in my living will?

A. There is a space under “Add Personal Instruction (if any)” in the state forms where you may include other instructions. To give these instruction is exactly the purpose of a living will.

There is a fine line here. If you add too many directives, you may unintentionally restrict your agent’s power to act in your best interest. You will want your agent to respond flexibly in unforeseeable medical situations. The following, however, are some suggestions that state the basics yet retain that flexibility. Many of these are included in the documents from Gentle Closure, Inc.

I direct that:

1. I be allowed to die from the underlying conditions or illnesses and to not have my death prolonged through medical intervention;

2. I be given maximum pain relief to keep me comfortable and to alleviate pain and suffering, even if this may shorten my remaining life;

3. I receive maximum pain medication for any pain or discomfort stemming from the withholding or withdrawing of medical procedures including artificial nutrition and hydration;

4. if I should execute a health care proxy, such document shall be construed together with this living will;

5. if there is any doubt as to whether or not life-sustaining treatment is to be administered to me, it is to be resolved in favor of withholding or withdrawing such treatment;

6. I prefer to die at home;

7. I prefer hospice care to nursing home care;

8. my agent knows my wishes concerning artificial nutrition and hydration.

Some states (New York is one) allow your health care agent to withhold or withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration (tube feeding for food and water) only if the agent specifically knows that you wish to refuse it. I strongly recommend that you add number 8 to your living will and health care proxy.


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