Skip to comments.Living Wills: Signing Your Own Death Warrant? A Christian Lawyer’s Perspective
Posted on 08/19/2008 8:50:45 AM PDT by Daniel T. Zanoza
Editors Note: Stephen Bloom is a Christian attorney with more than 20 years experience in private practice. He is a frequent media guest, speaker, and writer on Christianity and the law, a Lecturer in Management and Business at Messiah College, and a Consultant to the United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Central Pennsylvania. He is a legal columnist for Good News Daily, former host of the "Practical Counsel - Christian Perspective" radio program, and founder of the Estate Planning Council of Cumberland County. Bloom has been actively involved in the leadership of numerous community and ministry organizations, including his church, where he serves as a Certified Lay Speaker. He is a longtime member of the Christian Legal Society.
The signs of confusion are pervasive and troubling. My legal clients ask, Should I carry my Living Will with me, in case Im in an accident while traveling? A major newspaper story laments that too often Living Wills arent available when decisions about life support must be made. Retirement community residents are directed to keep Living Wills taped to their refrigerators, for quick and easy access. Credible stories are told of first responders and emergency room personnel withholding care from patients with Living Wills.
Whats wrong with this picture? ...
(Excerpt) Read more at rffm.typepad.com ...
Monty Python “Bring out your dead “.
You need to have enough that your family will not be destitute if you die.
But it needs to not be so much that you are worth more dead to your family.
So just make sure your living will is written correctly. There, fixed it.
Sorry Danny, Christ didn’t like lawyers much, and neither do I. “Christian” and “attorney” are contradictory, as believers don’t lie without God correcting them, and I don’t see lawyers getting corrected by God...
I have the same issues at my firm (we execute about 250 Directives To Physicians a year, in addition to the other estate planning documents). The question most often asked is whether, if they have this document, the Emergency Department at the hospital won’t treat their injuries if they get in a car accident. We explain (ad nauseum, sometimes) that the election clearly doesn’t apply to emergency situations like that. I have considered adding some language to the statutorily suggested form to that effect.
Christ didn’t like “the teachers of the law”, who twisted scripture. Scripture says nothing that I can find about civil lawyers, other than to submit ourselves to the governing authorities, which would necessarily mean we can avail ourselves of civil representation. I’m a sold out, born-again believer in my Lord, Jesus Christ, and a lawyer. There is no inherent conflict between the two; in fact, I’ve seen Christian attorney-mediators succeed where all others fail.
As to the article itself, it would be absurd to withhold ER care or roadside care to someone because he/she had a Living Will (Directive to Physicians). The document is quite clear as to when extraordinary health care procedures are to terminate -- and it clearly does not apply to any emergency situation or an accident scene.
This smells of a lawyer whose probate earnings have taken a hit in recent years.
Yes, the documents are clear. Unfortunately, minds can be fuzzy and many seem to be making their own independent (and incorrect) assumptions about what the documents mean.
There are solutions to a number of concerns. To the cold-blooded (Hollandesque) scenario for instance, adding safety language to the discretion given to the attending doctor’s is offered here: http://www.pascalfervor.com/Commentary/Deadly_Living_Wills.html
I'm sure there are misconceptions among the general public, but I can't believe EMT's and ER personnel are not trained in this simple area.
I'll put it this way-- if some ER Doctor ordered "no resuscitation" because somebody told him the patient had a Living Will, then I would love to handle that lawsuit.
For just a random taste of the serious confusion on the ground among paramedics, sample this posting and the comments on a paramedic blog:
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Having a living will is an invitation for a hospital or nursing home to neglect you to death.
Please...let's not me so narrow minded. That's not the case...and I know it.
Me = be
Are you on the legal end or the medical end.
Being on the medical end, I’ve seen it happen over and over.
It is swept under the rug but it is very much common knowledge.
Most states in wrongful death or malpractice cases where there is a death base judgments on Years of life and earning potential.
If an elderly person winds up dead through neglect they aren’t worth a dime .
For a lawyer there is more money in a bed sore than in the death of an elderly person.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. The problem is correctly written living wills being wrongly applied.
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