Advance Healthcare Directive, the “Living Will”

Advance Healthcare Directives:

An Advance healthcare directive, sometimes called a “Living Will,” is legal document which instructs health care providers of the level of care you desire if you are unable to speak for yourself.

medical consultation

Under Oklahoma Law it is presumed that you would want life sustaining treatment continued including the use of feeding tubes unless a contrary desire has been communicated. The best way to insure your wishes are honored is to have a Living Will.

Avoid Family Conflicts

If you do not have a Living Will your family may disagree about what your wishes would have been. Terri Schiavo’s family found themselves in a seven-year court battle that could have been avoided if she had a Living Will. Therefore, even if you want all life sustaining treatment including feeding tubes: it is still important to make a Living Will. An Advance Directive or Living Will provides the best and legally enforceable way to communicate your instructions and avoid conflicts.

Understanding the Oklahoma Advance Healthcare Directive “Living Will”

Three End-of-Life Conditions:

The Oklahoma Form describes three “end-of-life” conditions which may trigger the Living Will if you are incapacitated. Two doctors must agree that you have one of these conditions:

  • Your death is expected within 6 months regardless of treatment; or
  • You are in a persistently and irreversibly unconscious condition; or
  • You have an end-stage irreversible condition, caused by injury, disease, or illness, which results in severe and permanent deterioration indicated by incompetency and complete physical dependency for which treatment would be medically ineffective.

Treatment Options:

For each of these conditions you may select different treatment options:

  • Feeding Tubes and IVs Only: This choice instructs doctors to withhold life extending treatments except that you should be given nutrition and hydration through feeding tubes or IVs if necessary.
  • Do everything:   This instructs doctors to do everything possible to extend life including artificially administering nutrition and hydration (feeding tubes) if you are unable to take these by mouth.
  • Do Nothing: This choice instructs doctors to end life sustaining treatments and to not use feeding tubes or IVs.
  • Other: You are not limited to these options. You can include other instructions concerning the care you do or do not want.

Making a choice that isn’t Permanent

Making a Choice that Isn’t Permanent

Keep in mind that unless modified, some choices which include the administration of nutrition and hydration can cause you to remain alive from months or years without any quality of life. My forms include the ability to limit the length of time that life sustaining treatments are to be administered.

Sample form.

Health Care Proxy

A Health Care Proxy is a person you choose to make medical treatment decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make such decisions.  Your proxy can make decisions but they must follow the instructions in your Living Will. It is important that you discuss your values with the person you select.  Communication with persons selected as a health care proxy is important.

Organs and Tissue Donation

Oklahoma’s form includes the option to give instructions on organ donation. You can donate selected organ, tissue or your entire body. You can specify that your donation will be used for transplantation, therapy, research and/or teaching.