Life support choices - making your wishes known
By David Walker, Attorney at Law
One of the goals of estate planning is for a person to state his or her desires as to life support choices. A person can be on a life support device and unable to communicate as to whether the person wants to continue on life support.
The law provides for an advance directive to be signed to make that statement. In earlier years this document was calling living will. Now, Georgia law provides for a comprehensive "advance directive" which addresses medical issues, including life support choices. The choices which are available in the suggested form for such choices in the advance directive are set forth below. At times the choice to remain on life support can arise when a person is conscious, but unable to communicate, such as in the case of a spinal injury or stroke. Additional choices arise when a person might want some types of life support, but not others. A comprehensive set of choices is available, including whether a person wants hydration(water), nourishment(food), pain medication, or other life-sustaining treatment. People who are considering these choices would benefit by reviewing the format of the advance directive for making these choices.
This is the portion of the advance directive concerning life support choices.
PART TWO: TREATMENT PREFERENCES
[PART TWO will be effective only if you are unable to communicate your treatment preferences after reasonable and appropriate efforts have been made to communicate with you about your treatment preferences. PART TWO will be effective even if PART ONE is not completed. If you have not selected a health care agent in PART ONE, or if your health care agent is not available, then PART TWO will provide your physician and other health care providers with your treatment preferences. If you have selected a health care agent in PART ONE, then your health care agent will have the authority to make all health care decisions for you regarding matters covered by PART TWO. Your health care agent will be guided by your treatment preferences and other factors described in Section (4) of PART ONE.]
PART TWO will be effective if I am in any of the following conditions:
[Initial each condition in which you want PART TWO to be effective.]
_________ (Initials) A terminal condition, which means I have an incurable or irreversible condition that will result in my death in a relatively short period of time.
_________ (Initials) A state of permanent unconsciousness, which means I am in an incurable or irreversible condition in which I am not aware of myself or my environment and I show no behavioral response to my environment.
My condition will be determined in writing after personal examination by my attending physician and a second physician in accordance with currently accepted medical standards.
(7) TREATMENT PREFERENCES
[State your treatment preference by initialing (A), (B), or (C). If you choose (C), state your additional treatment preferences by initialing one or more of the statements following (C). You may provide additional instructions about your treatment preferences in the next section. You will be provided with comfort care, including pain relief, but you may also want to state your specific preferences regarding pain relief in the next section.]
If I am in any condition that I initialed in Section (6) above and I can no longer communicate my treatment preferences after reasonable and appropriate efforts have been made to communicate with me about my treatment preferences, then:
(A) _________ (Initials) Try to extend my life for as long as possible, using all medications, machines, or other medical procedures that in reasonable medical judgment could keep me alive. If I am unable to take nutrition or fluids by mouth, then I want to receive nutrition or fluids by tube or other medical means.
(B) _________ (Initials) Allow my natural death to occur. I do not want any medications, machines, or other medical procedures that in reasonable medical judgment could keep me alive but cannot cure me. I do not want to receive nutrition or fluids by tube or other medical means except as needed to provide pain medication.
(C) _________ (Initials) I do not want any medications, machines, or other medical procedures that in reasonable medical judgment could keep me alive but cannot cure me, except as follows:
[Initial each statement that you want to apply to option (C).]
_________ (Initials) If I am unable to take nutrition by mouth, I want to receive nutrition by tube or other medical means.
_________ (Initials) If I am unable to take fluids by mouth, I want to receive fluids by tube or other medical means.
_________ (Initials) If I need assistance to breathe, I want to have a ventilator used.
_________ (Initials) If my heart or pulse has stopped, I want to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) used.
Our office would be glad to assist you with preparation of these important documents.
David Walker has practiced law for over 30 years and we have two offices on each end of Gwinnett County for your convenience.
David Sinclair Walker, Jr. P.C. P.O.BOX 871329, Stone Mountain GA 30087;
North Gwinnett Office - 6340 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 200, Duluth GA 30097;
South Gwinnett Office - 2330 Scenic Highway, Snellville GA 30078
Telephone 770-972-3803; Facsimile 770-921-7418 email firstname.lastname@example.org
-Admitted in GA and D.C. -UGA Law ’76 -Certified Mediator -Georgia Bar No. 731725770) 972-3803 or visit http://www.walker-law-firm.com/