Advance Medical Decisions
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Advance Medical Decisions
An advance medical decision, often referred to as an ‘advance directive’ or ‘living will’, is a written statement of a person’s wishes about medical treatment if they become terminally ill or incapacitated.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY DOES AN ADVANCE MEDICAL DECISION DO?
An advance medical decision allows a person to refuse specified treatment in specified circumstances such as:
- Physical illness which is so serious that life is nearing an end and there is no likelihood of recovery;
- Permanent serious mental impairment with physical illness and/or
- Permanent unconsciousness.
We are all completely free to refuse to undergo medical treatment even if, as a result it brings about our death. However, we must have the mental capacity to make that kind of decision. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 gives clear legal status to advance medical decisions, which means that health professionals must follow them, so long as they are legally valid and applicable to the specified treatment and circumstances.
DISCUSSIONS WITH FAMILY AND MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
If a person wishes to make an advance medical decision, then they should discuss their wishes with their immediate family and talk fully with their doctor about your treatment. An advance medical decision does not ask a doctor to do anything against existing law, but it is useful when decisions have to be made on prolonging an individual’s life.
VALIDITY OF AN ADVANCE MEDICAL DECISION
An advance medical decision will be valid if:
- A person had the mental capacity to make the advance decision to refuse treatment;
- the refusal was intended to apply in the kind of situation which later arose;
- The person understood fully the consequences of such decision in that kind of situation and;
- There was no undue influence made by anyone else on a person’s decision.
If a person changes their mind at a later date, an advance medical decision is not final and is irrevocable and can therefore be changed.
WE CAN HELP
If you need help with making an advance medical decision then we can help. We at Seatons can deal with all the paperwork and legal issues that arise. We will try to make the procedure as stress-free as possible.
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