Why Are Advance Directives Legally Important?

Ashley, Ruthe C.
August 2005
Critical Care Nurse;Aug2005, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p56
Academic Journal
This article discusses the importance of advance directives. Advance directives are composed of 2 legal documents: the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document appointing a person or persons of your choosing to make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable to do so because of injury, illness, or diminished capacity. Without a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a court may appoint a conservator handled by the probate court and is subject to many of the same problems as probate. With Living Will, a person can declare which medical procedures he or she wants or does not want performed when terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state. Generally, the Living Will applies only to comatose patients who can no longer communicate their wishes to terminate life-support systems. A Living Will provides important legal protections for healthcare professionals, and communicates the individual's wishes to the family and the designated Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. It takes away the decision from medical professionals and family members, and gives individuals the power to choose and decide the precise circumstances of discontinuing treatments.


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