How can you be certain that YOUR end-of-life wishes are carried out?
We know LIVING WILLS.
This is a written declaration stating your wishes regarding the use of any life-prolonging medical treatment. In Florida, the Living Will covers machines as well as the use of artificial nutrition and hydration. As with the Health Care Surrogate appointment, there is not a required legislated form.
As long as you are competent, you can make your own choices regarding your medical treatment, so this document is only used if you are not able to make your own decisions.
If you do not sign a written Living Will declaration, your intent can be proven by statements you have made in the past. But it is much better to put your intent in writing.
If you are incapacitated, your Living Will cannot be used unless two (2) doctors certify in your medical record that you are:
terminally ill, and that there is no probable chance of recovery and the illness is expected to cause death, or you are in a persistent vegetative state that is permanent and irreversible, or you have an “end-stage condition” defined as “a condition that is caused by injury, disease, or illness which has resulted in severe and permanent deterioration, indicated by incapacity and complete physical dependency, and for which, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, treatment of the irreversible condition would be medically ineffective”.
It is your responsibility to provide notification to your attending or treating physician that the Living Will has been made. As a courtesy to our clients, we send a copy of the Living Will with a cover letter to your physician asking that your Living Will be placed in your medical records.
Whether a person is terminally ill is a subjective decision so it is important that your physician understand your wishes and that you feel confident that your physician will do everything possible to carry out your wishes within the boundaries of the law. If you do not believe that your physician will follow your wishes, and, if it is important to you to have your wishes carried out, you may want to consider changing physicians. If your physician will not honor your wishes, your family will be faced with the difficult task of finding a willing physician during a difficult and stressful time.