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Living Will: An Overview
It is also possible to express your wishes verbally to your doctor, but it would be better if you put them into writing to make things clearer for the doctor and your family. While advance directives are not legally binding, health care professionals take the statements into consideration when making a decision about your health and the possible treatments for you. In addition, your family or friends can use your advance directive as a proof of your desires for medical treatment.
Usually, living wills contain general statements that point out the specific kind of treatments that patients want or do not want to receive in the event that they lose their mental capacity in the future. In particular, the statements include the following: the treatments you wish to go through regardless of the severity of your condition, the treatments you do not want to undergo and in what conditions, and the treatments that you are willing to undergo and in what conditions.
New treatments and medications for a certain illness may become available in the future, so the statements may also say that the patient would allow them. The statements can indicate the person who you want to be consulted by the physician regarding your treatment if a decision is necessary. The general statements can include a refusal of a particular treatment.
Advance statements include the patientís name, address, signature, and date. It is advised that the patient indicate that he understands everything he stated and is mentally capable to make such decisions. The document must be signed by a witness who can attest that you are capable of making decisions for yourself at the time you created your advance directive.
Patients with mental disorders can still create living wills if they are able to prove that they understand the repercussions of their advance statements. In the advance directive, patients are advised to explain their reasons for making their decision about how they want or donít want to be treated, for coming up with these decisions now, and what they understand about the treatments they agree into or decline to undergo.
The advance directive must be recorded into the patientís medical notes so that it can be used in case of emergencies. It is best to send a copy of the advance directive to the doctor, the hospital where the patient is confined, and to one of the patientís family members.
A living will should be reviewed regularly to be sure that there are no flaws or vague statements. Changing the statements is possible in case the patient is not happy with certain statements in his will or if he needs to adjust some statements in case of changes in his situation. Cancelling the advance directive is also allowed.
The patient must make sure that the old versions of his will are destroyed and keep only the most recent one to avoid confusion.
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