Skip to comments.Five Deadly Wishes: Signing Documents (EVERYBODY should read this before entering a hospital)
Posted on 05/17/2011 7:02:48 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
Currently, in todays 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 Americas 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 ones 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 its time.
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:
My suggestion? Do it now.
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).
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.
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.
A “Living Will” is an advance directive. Two interchangeable terms for the same thing.
Thank you for this information and must read. This information should be shared with our email lists.
Wouldn’t a simple DNR - do not resuscitate - be sufficient?
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.
If you wanna die........yeah.
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.
bookmark for later when I get ink for my printer. Thank you for the article.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ;)
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.
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.
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.....
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.
I added explicit reference in my document to the USCCB Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care
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.
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.