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Five Deadly Wishes: Signing Documents (EVERYBODY should read this before entering a hospital)
Catholic Bioethics, Featured ^ | May 16, 2011 | Fr. Basil Cole, O.P.

Posted on 05/17/2011 7:02:48 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o

Currently, in today’s healthcare world, there is a document for medical care that one can sign even before going into the hospital called, “Aging With Dignity: Five Wishes.” [According to the website of Aging with Dignity, the Five Wishes document " has become America’s most popular living will".]

There is a section in this document that asks a future patient the following: “If I wish to omit life-support treatment, I write this limitation in the space below,” which is very dangerous. The problem with this request is that most of us are not good doctors to be able to give such directives. As a result, it would be possible for us to die based on poor care that we authorized in the first place. We never can know when new procedures for curing make be discovered, which if used, could give us years of a productive life. Finally, it is possible that a poor and ambiguous sentence or two in this document could be used by a hospital to force us out so that the hospital can have the bed for another patient.

Another problem exists. The document says, “If I am close to death,” I can choose to leave it in the hands of my doctor to continue “support treatment,” or I can simply say I do not want any life support. What is support treatment? It can mean any device or medicine to keep me alive, such as oxygen, feeding and hydration through a tube, CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a major surgery, blood transfusions, dialysis or antibiotics. The Church teaches that one is not obliged to extraordinary or disproportionate treatment or burdensome treatment, but one is obliged to ordinary treatment unless the ordinary treatment turns out to be very burdensome. Each individual is different and so this issue needs a prudential judgment on a case by case basis. Hence the need exists for a good healthcare agent or someone with durable power of attorney.

Feeding and hydration is not medical treatment. It can be disproportionate if the tube that is used to deliver food and water leads to a painful condition, such as infections and the like. But that again is a question of prudence of the moment to be made by one’s agent for healthcare or someone with durable power of attorney. In a worstcase scenario, a doctor or a hospital or even the government could decide what is disproportionate for a patient, a decision that could lead to a painful death. This would be legal if you signed an ambiguous document. If you are dying today, giving an antibiotic to wipe out an ordinary infection would be ridiculous but it would not be if you were not dying but just in a very sickly condition and no one really knows when you will be dying. Withholding a simple pill could be euthanasia so that your bed could be made available for someone else who conceivable may have better health insurance.

These issues can be resolved by not signing any document that tries to help you “play” doctor. Now, if you must sign some kind of document to be admitted to a hospital with these and other ambiguous questions about your future care in case you are in jeopardy of some kind, then you must qualify each sentence with “as the Catholic Church teaches, and my healthcare agent consents if I am unable to consent.” Otherwise, you could put yourself in great peril and die before it’s time.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: advance; directives; exit; livingwill
A legitimate Medical Advance Directive

A document which actually does this --- and which I recommend --- is the one offered by the NRLC's Powell Center for Medical Ethics, designed with reference to your own state's laws, downloadable here:

http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/StatesList.html

My suggestion? Do it now.

1 posted on 05/17/2011 7:02:50 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Doesn’t a living will put all this to rest? I love your suggestions but a living will might be needed by every person in America (maybe the World).


2 posted on 05/17/2011 7:08:44 AM PDT by napscoordinator
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To: Mrs. Don-o

My mom had surgery in March and they wanted her to fill out a living will. She had already made me in charge in case anything should happen, so I told her to just leave it at that and not fill out the living will. The living will said they could take her off life support after so many days, yada, yada, yada. Personally, I don’t think you are in a position to make those kinds of decisions beforehand. There are too many unknowns.


3 posted on 05/17/2011 7:11:08 AM PDT by beaversmom
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Don’t sign the advance directive unless you don’t mind being starved and dehydrated to death. My advance directive now states as follows: I desire to be fed and hydrated.


4 posted on 05/17/2011 7:12:12 AM PDT by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: IbJensen; UniqueViews; rabscuttle385; AmericaTalks; Windflier; Cardhu; Bodhi1; truthandlife; ...

Ping-a-ling


5 posted on 05/17/2011 7:12:44 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Do you mean now?" ---Yogi Berra, when asked "What time is it?" ---)
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To: napscoordinator

A “Living Will” is an advance directive. Two interchangeable terms for the same thing.


6 posted on 05/17/2011 7:14:17 AM PDT by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: Mrs. Don-o; bitt; Bitsy; MamaDearest; sheik yerbouty; conservativguy99; jesseam; freekitty; flat; ..

Thank you for this information and must read. This information should be shared with our email lists.


7 posted on 05/17/2011 7:15:07 AM PDT by ExTexasRedhead
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Wouldn’t a simple DNR - do not resuscitate - be sufficient?


8 posted on 05/17/2011 7:18:55 AM PDT by anonsquared
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To: yldstrk; beaversmom; napscoordinator
The point is that you do need some form of "Advance Direct5ive" or "Living Will," but not the one described in this article, the one called "Aging with Dignity: Five Wishes." It's way too ambiguous, and does not affirm the right to "ordinary care", e.g. the right not to be cut off food and water so you die quickly and badly from starvation/dehydration.

The essential thing is to have a Health Care Proxy who knows quite thoroughly what you would find necessary or unnecessary, tolerable or intolerable. The "piece of paper" is indispensible because it provides evidence. But even the "piece of paper" isn't going to save you, if you don't have a living person there to to actively and intelligently advocate for you.

That's why I recommend the NRLC "Will to Live" document.

9 posted on 05/17/2011 7:20:53 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Do you mean now?" ---Yogi Berra, when asked "What time is it?" ---)
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To: anonsquared

No.


10 posted on 05/17/2011 7:21:47 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Do you mean now?" ---Yogi Berra, when asked "What time is it?" ---)
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To: anonsquared

If you wanna die........yeah.


11 posted on 05/17/2011 7:22:16 AM PDT by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: yldstrk

You can put that into an advance directive. All it does is tell the world what you want done to you if you are incapable of telling them yourself.

You can say keep me on a machine till my flesh rots of my bones if that’s what you want.


12 posted on 05/17/2011 7:22:34 AM PDT by DManA
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To: Mrs. Don-o

bookmark for later when I get ink for my printer. Thank you for the article.


13 posted on 05/17/2011 7:26:04 AM PDT by melissa_in_ga (Mr. President: Game On!)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

We did it earlier this year. Our attorney had never seen the Will to Live so asked us to leave a copy and reschedule our appointment so she could look it over (and determine its legality in our state). When we went back she said she had looked into it and it was legit, (well duh). She then said she had never had anyone do anything other than the regular Living Will and that people usually opted for little intervention so assets would be left for their kids.
She was very interested in our concerns and beliefs on the issues of dying. My husband and I had both lost our mothers within the last 18 months so we had dealt with it recently and had seen the death peddlers in action.


14 posted on 05/17/2011 7:26:09 AM PDT by kalee (The offences we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we engrave in marble. J Huett 1658)
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To: beaversmom

You really can’t blame a hospital for wanting something in writing. If you aren’t in a position to make those decisions before hand you sure as heck won’t be in a better position when it comes down to life and death crunch time.


15 posted on 05/17/2011 7:27:31 AM PDT by DManA
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Lots of folks don't want to *face* this element of their end. It should be discussed with immediate family and drawn up with an attorney [no legal zoom] who will know your state's statutes. Advance directives and Durable Power of Attorney. Don't let family [under duress] decide what you really want.


16 posted on 05/17/2011 7:31:49 AM PDT by Daffynition ("Don't just live your life, but witness it also.")
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To: napscoordinator

Don’t worry about that Obama care will leave you with No decisions to make.Their death panels will do it for you.

Watch out,Here they come.


17 posted on 05/17/2011 7:36:54 AM PDT by puppypusher (The World is going to the dogs.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
The essential thing is to have a Health Care Proxy who knows quite thoroughly what you would find necessary or unnecessary, tolerable or intolerable.

Absolutely correct. The best solution is to assign a medical power of attorney to someone you know and trust (Mrs. Tick in my case) who knows your desires. Far better than any piece of paper that is left to "health care professionals" to "interpret".

COROLLARY: be careful to stay on loving good terms with your medical attorney-in-fact! :-)

I frequently remind Mrs. Tick that it is not acceptable to *remove* my life support before I am actually *on* life support.

18 posted on 05/17/2011 8:07:27 AM PDT by Nervous Tick (Trust in God, but row away from the rocks!)
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To: yldstrk

Life is seldom as simple as it looks.

If you have ever watched someone taking their last gasps of air dying of cancer, you would realize that the quiet end that comes with dehydration is not the worst fate.

Everybody needs to make their own choices but if my end were cancer I would choose to not receive a gastric tube or IV fluids.


19 posted on 05/17/2011 8:11:59 AM PDT by dangerdoc (see post #6)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

bump


20 posted on 05/17/2011 8:51:16 AM PDT by Matthew James (SPEARHEAD!)
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To: ExTexasRedhead; Mrs. Don-o

Always figured I’d let the kids handle it, but son was a Corpsman so I don’t know if he knows how to stop. ;)


21 posted on 05/17/2011 9:26:00 AM PDT by SouthTexas (You cannot bargain with the devil, shut the government down.)
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To: dangerdoc
I don't know that everyone's legally or morally obliged to have a gastic tube inserted, since the insertion itself may be futile and burdensome in a dying person (e.g. there may be infection issues, or the person may not be able to actually absorb nutrition).

The real question comes when you already have the tube inserted, and it's doing exactly what it's supposed to do (supplying you with nutrition which you can assimilate), and it is not burdensome in itself, but somebody wants to remove it for the purpose of starving you to death.

That' a different matter altogether.

22 posted on 05/17/2011 9:35:31 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Do you mean now?" ---Yogi Berra, when asked "What time is it?" ---)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Mine reads, “follow the Church teachings on all end-of-life matters.”

I’ve also designated someone that knows me well enough who is a medical professional to carry it out. Although I should probably go and get her legal power of attorney.


23 posted on 05/17/2011 10:54:43 AM PDT by BenKenobi
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To: napscoordinator
A living will is not really for hospital use.

And Advance Directive...is more useful in that situation.

Just make sure...it's accepted at the hospital you are at. Most States are different.....

24 posted on 05/17/2011 11:00:11 AM PDT by Osage Orange (He Hate Me)
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To: ExTexasRedhead

Very informative.


25 posted on 05/17/2011 11:37:50 AM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: DManA

No, I do wish she had had something, but I didn’t feel comfortable having her fill out the hospital living will just as she’s going into be operated on. It was pretty much how many days do you want to be kept alive if something goes wrong. She had had the paperwork beforehand, but she didn’t know how to fill it out and she’s not the type to ask questions or research anything on her own. You could push her over with a feather and talk her into just about anything. If I had known before we got to the hospital, I would have tried to help her.


26 posted on 05/17/2011 12:02:50 PM PDT by beaversmom
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To: beaversmom

bttt


27 posted on 05/17/2011 12:14:41 PM PDT by ConservativeMan55
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To: BenKenobi
Yeah, definitely do the power of attorney thing.

I added explicit reference in my document to the USCCB Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care

http://www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.shtml

28 posted on 05/17/2011 12:52:11 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Do you mean now?" ---Yogi Berra, when asked "What time is it?" ---)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

bttt


29 posted on 05/17/2011 4:17:15 PM PDT by Albion Wilde (Thank you, Dubya and U.S. military. You did not falter. You did not fail.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Placemark to read and pingout.

I hope you’re feeling well, Mrs!! I haven’t forgotten our emails - had emergencies of various kinds - gave myself a concussion of some kind, and now have to make herb packages for two families in the PI, then I can work on what you sent me. Been thinking.


30 posted on 05/17/2011 5:09:37 PM PDT by little jeremiah (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CSLewis)
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To: beaversmom
I would be uncomfortable with a stock hospital form also. Usually hospitals do have social workers that can help. It's something they face every day.

Pass it on how important it is to talk about these things before it's too late.

If I had known before we got to the hospital, I would have tried to help her.

31 posted on 05/17/2011 5:18:04 PM PDT by DManA
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To: call meVeronica

Bump


32 posted on 05/18/2011 6:48:43 PM PDT by call meVeronica
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