Advanced Directives are health care documents that implicate future medical treatment, in situations where individuals are incapable of making sound decisions. Advanced directives relay a patient’s wishes by indicating the treatment preferences. In addition, those doctors can subject a patient to situations where the patient cannot communicate properly. Contrary to ordinary will, advanced directives do not focus on property or wealth distribution, but rather on directive acts as the voice of an individual when the patient is not of sound mind (King, 2005). However, advanced directives become effective only after medical practitioners establish that a patient cannot reason normally in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It is essential to note that advanced directives are legal binding. In addition to this, advanced directives do not only apply in life saving treatment, but any other ordinary treatment as long as the patient in question is incapable of making sound decisions (King, 2005).
Prior to implementation of a directive, it is obligatory for a medical physician to pledge the existence of such a document. State law requires that a doctor or a health care giver views the document whether in virtual or tangible form prior to implementing the preferred directives. Under these circumstances, word of mouth does not apply. When drafting advanced directives, there are standardized legal requirements that the individual should meet. First, an individual should draft and sign the manuscript in the attendance of a witness. An attorney presides over the process. Most states provide already drafted forms for patients to fill in the required information. However, few exceptions allow patients to draft their own directives, but in standardized language. The state law recognizes that a patient must be of sound mind during the drafting procedure of an advanced directive. There are two types of advanced directives: a durable power and a living will of an attorney for health care (Krohm, 2002).
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A living will is a drafted document that speaks a patient’s wish on a matter regarding treatment, in a situation where a patient cannot make sound decisions. Usually patients discuss with their doctors medical treatment or procedures that can renew their health (Cantor, 2000). However, when a patient is incapable of responding verbally to a medical physician, then a living will applies. A living will is only effective when the patient is still alive. To top it off, the patient should be incapable to make a health care decision as a result of a mental condition as defined by the state law such as advanced stages of Alzhemier or permanent unconsciousness. A living will expresses the patients’ opinions on matters regarding death and the employment of heroic life saving measures or advanced technology to extend the life of a patient (Cantor, 2000). A living will does not restrict patient to a certain criteria of medication it rather allows the patient to request preferred treatment whether legal or illegal. Ethically, a living will proves to be unrealistic. This is because living wills focus on the selected life ending decisions without anticipating other health care complications that a patient might develop in the future.
On the other hand, a durable power of an attorney for health care pertains to scenarios where a doctor requires a legal guardian to make health care decisions concerning a patient’s treatment. This type of legal documentation refers to a patient as a principal, and the person making a resolution in place of the patient as an agent or proxy. In some situations, an individual can appoint an actual attorney to make health care decisions on his or her behalf. This only happens subsequent to a doctor declaring a patient mentally unstable. In contrast to a living will, a durable power of an attorney for health care tackles a broader spectrum of medical conditions. It does not focus exclusively on life-death situations, but allows an attorney to make a decision on any health care circumstances when a patient is a subject. It is advised that a person selects an agent with care (Krohm 2002). An effective agent should possess a critical mind to make a wise decision. Moreover, an agent makes resolutions with the welfare of the patient at heart, regardless of whether family members and healthcare practitioners support or resent the decision. It is also advisable that a person should not appoint a spouse as an agent since the emotional attachment might act as a hindrance to critical decision making. The durable power of an attorney for healthcare always indicates an alternative attorney or agent, in case the first attorney cannot serve. In some situations, two agents can serve together. However, it is usual for conflict to arise in such circumstances because of the difference in opinion regarding a health care decision. State law requires that two individuals stand as witnesses during the drafting of a durable power of an attorney for health care provision. Moreover, the law permits an individual to cancel an advanced directive at his or her own wish. The law also allows individuals to change their agents in case of a need. Below is a sample of a living will (Krohm, 2002).
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