Living Wills: Putting Your Refusal Into Writing
The current medical advances have made it possible for health care providers to artificially prolong life. To some people, the notion of hooking their loved ones to a life support system may be not be agreeable especially if there is no definite chance of recovery from the debilitating condition.
However, a lot of folks strongly believe in the inviolability of life. And unless the patient himself or herself wills the termination of life-prolonging measures, no one has the right to pull the plug. Then again, the only way that this would happen is through the use of living wills.
You may not initially welcome the concept of living wills. But as you try to weigh the pros and cons, you will begin to realize that it is not a bad idea after all. A great deal of planning and preparation is your best option if you want your hospital care to turn out the way you want to – even if it involves pulling the plug for all forms of artificial life support. In addition, putting your wishes into writing is the right path to take in this particular situation.
Possible Reasons For Refusal of Treatment
There may be a million of different reasons why people would want to refuse medical treatment. Then again, most of these rationales may be placed under two broad categories. The first one basically involves the overall benefit of the medical intervention. If the advantage of a particular medication or procedure is not huge enough to substantiate the associated discomfort and risk, then the patient may decide not to receive such measures.
Even though most folks would be willing to undergo a number of risky and unpleasant treatments in order to live longer, this statistics should not be viewed as the basis for the medical care of all patients – particularly those that do not have living wills. Some people actually prefer a shorter and more comfortable life, especially if the quality is significantly compromised.
The second probable reason for the refusal of medical treatment would be the existence of intolerable circumstances. In spite of the simplicity and tolerability of a particular life-sustaining intervention – such as a nasogastric tube (NGT) feeding, some may say no to it in the presence of an irreversible condition like a persistent vegetative state.
When viewed in this light, the life-prolonging measures may be met with completely atypical decisions. The treatment would then be perceived to lengthen the period of suffering, for both the patient and immediate family.
Even though some decisions fall effortlessly under one of the two broad categories, others just would not fit below any. Based on the circumstances present, the term “medical treatment” may involve the use of ventilation tubes (inserted into the chest or neck), the administration of antibiotics or any drug with a high probability of success. Benefit/burden decision-making in these situations could bring about different choices.
If you want certain treatments to be withheld when you’re no longer able to decide for yourself, you should specify them in your living will. Numerous health care declarations or living wills contain instructions intended for doctors to deny the provision of “life-sustaining treatments” or “extraordinary care”.
These directives are often difficult to interpret correctly and are less likely to be followed than those that are more detailed.