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Legal Problems of Advance Directives

Can you please explain the purposes, and any legal problems you see inherent in the use of advance directives.

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Advance directives allow patients to establish beforehand (usually by means of a written document), what kinds of medical treatment they would and would not want, should they fall victim to a serious or life-threatening illness that leaves them unable to express their wishes. Advance directives can be either a statement of very general desires (ex. "I do not want my life prolonged by any artificial mechanical means"), or a list of specific wishes (ex. "I do not want to be attached to a mechanical ventilator").

By allowing patients to make such choices ahead of time, advance directives can potentially spare them from being subjected to treatments that they would consider demeaning, undignified, painful or otherwise undesirable, should they become incapacitated ...

Solution Summary

This solution addresses the definition, practical use, and inherent problems with advance directives.