Kent Larsson writes about the proper use of wills, advance directives, trusts, and other estate planning tools, and how how they play a vital role in you receiving proper medical care and helping you to preserve and pass on your assets to your loved ones.
Doctors pondered the legal strength of a "Do Not Resuscitate" tattoo.
Doctors had to figure out whether to follow the directions of a “Do Not Resuscitate" tattoo, according to CNN in "A man's tattoo left doctors debating whether to save his life."
An unconscious 70-year-old man was brought into a hospital. He had a high blood alcohol level and a tattoo that read "Do Not Resuscitate."
The doctors determined at first that they should ignore the tattoo and try to save the man's life.
Then they discussed the matter with an ethics consultant and reached the opposite conclusion.
The man's written do not resuscitate directive was later found and the problem was cleared up. The man passed away.
This is an interesting case for medical ethicists.
It is also interesting in the sense that doctors will follow the advanced directives of their patients.
An estate planning attorney may be the best place to get a directive, rather than a tattoo parlor.
Reference: CNN (Dec. 12, 2017) "A man's tattoo left doctors debating whether to save his life."
It appears that the way Americans want to pass away is rarely what actually happens.
The training of medical professionals may result in different goals for them than what their patients want, according to The New York Times reports in "We're Bad at Death. Can We Talk?"
When we get sick, doctors give us the treatment that we generally expect. However, that does not necessarily hold true when people are at the end of their lives.
The difference between the goals of doctors and patients, stems from the fact that doctors are trained to do everything they can to sustain life. On the other hand, most patients would prefer to be let go with the least amount of pain and discomfort.
This leads to terminally ill patients being placed in intensive care units on artificial life support, when they would prefer to be placed in palliative care or return home so that they can pass away in peace.
This is something that needs to be addressed by the medical community.
An attorney can guide you in a medical directive, which assures you of what care you will receive.
Reference: New York Times (May 10, 2017) "We're Bad at Death. Can We Talk?"
Most would prefer to pass away in their homes, but most pass away in a facility.
We have made many medical advancements in the last century, so we don’t die as young as we used to or from many diseases that no longer exist. However, most people would still rather die in their homes than in a facility, according to the Economist in "How to have a better death."
In fact, the majority of people are not happy that they cannot choose when and where to die. People are often given life-saving treatment by doctors that they do not want.
At other times people with little hope of long term survival are not given the opportunity to choose the timing of their own deaths, which leads them to linger on in pain.
This is the primary reason for the movement to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is slowly picking up steam, as more and more states consider it.
Since it will not be an option for everyone for a long time, however, it is important that people take some matters they can control into their own hands.
Everyone should have advanced medical directives, at a minimum, that dictate what procedures doctors can and cannot use to prolong their lives.
An elder law attorney or estate planning attorney can guide you in setting up a plan that fits your unique circumstances.
Reference: Economist (April 29, 2017) "How to have a better death."
Doctors and other health care workers are trained to save lives whenever possible, but that can get them in trouble when patients don’t agree.
Millions of people now have advanced medical directives. This can cause conflicts and problems for health care workers, according to The New York Times in "The Patients Were Saved, That's Why the Families Are Suing."
The problems start when the patients' advanced directives are not followed.
Health care workers, who are either unaware of the directives or uncertain about them, have been known to resuscitate patients who do not wish to be, for example. This had led some families to sue for saving the lives of their sick relatives, which is a new position for doctors to be in. The majority of suits normally come when they fail to save patients.
It leaves many doctors bewildered, since the Hippocratic Oath does not suggest that saving a patient's life is ever inappropriate. However, Americans deserve to have their advanced medical directives respected and followed.
Reference: New York Times (April 10, 2017) "The Patients Were Saved, That's Why the Families Are Suing."
Suggested Key Words: Advanced Medical Directive, Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney