Advance Directives: Patient End-of-Life Decisions Essays

1708 Words Mar 12th, 2012 7 Pages
Advance Directives: Patient End-of-Life Decisions
Leah L. Markley
DeVry University
Health Rights and Responsibilities
Beth VanOrsdale
March 25, 2011

Advance Directives: Patient End-of-Life Decisions Medical technology today has come a long way. Numerous life prolonging procedures are available that can extend a person’s life where once they would have expired. Kidney dialysis, chemotherapy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), feeding tubes, intravenous hydration, and ventilators are but a few of these means for extending one’s life. The choice between quantity versus quality of life is complex, and not one that should be left up to chance. In 1990, Congress passed the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA).
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Ethically from a physician’s standpoint, withdrawing and/or withholding life-prolonging treatment is generally considered unethical. However, if a patient has requested not to be kept alive by certain means, it is their legal right to have their wishes taken into consideration. It is a complicated and often litigated issue.

Situations Where a Living Will Applies
End-of-life decisions are not just for the elderly or those who have been deemed terminally ill. The world in which we live is full of uncertainty and risk. Natural disasters occur on a near daily basis. Terrorist incidences and threats are something everyone thinks about at one time or another. Any moment in time can find an individual laying in a hospital bed, clinging to life. There are risks involved in simply walking down a street. Diseases exist for which there is no available cure. A living will provides a legal means by which health care professionals can be aware of how much care an individual does or does not want should they become medically incapacitated. It can also provide an individual with some peace of mind knowing either that everything medically available will be done to prolong his or her life, or that life prolonging measures will be limited if there is no hope for recovery.

What Should Be Included a Living Will Generally speaking, a living will provides information on what types of life prolonging care an individual wants or does not want in the case of

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