Ivy Tech Community College – Northwest
This paper covers and explains the Patient Self-Determination Act, the living will and the health care power of attorney. The living will and the health care power of attorney are two legal documents that every adult should be aware of and execute on their behalf. It touches on the basics of each document and the importance of how they relate to your health care wishes and decisions. Having these documents in place can spare your family or loved ones anguish and inform them and provide the direction to your end of life wishes. This paper also reviews how health care directives related to Brenda Hewitt and her common-law husband and their treatment in a New York hospital as explained in the article “Death in a New York Hospital” written by Engelbert L. Schucking, Dr. rer.nat.
Health Care Advanced Directives Hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes and HMO’s provide at the time of admission information on health care advanced directives. A federal law called the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) took effect on December 1, 1991 ("Patient Self-determination Act." 1992). The PSDA requires health care institutions that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds to provide patients with information regarding state laws concerning self-determination issues. The PSDA gives patients the rights to facilitate their own health care decisions, to accept or refuse medical treatments, and to make an advance health care directive ("What Is the Patient," n.d.).
A health care advance directive is a legal document for any health care decisions made when you are unable to speak for yourself. “Health care advance directive” is a general term for any written statements concerning your future health care made when you are competent. Formal directives include the health care power of attorney and the living will. You must be a legal adult and be of sound mind to make a valid document concerning your health care ("What Is a Health," n.d.). A legal document called a living will makes known a person’s wishes regarding life sustaining or prolonging medical treatments. This document informs your family and health care providers, if you are unable to speak for yourself, your desire for medical treatment. The document may indicate which treatments or procedures you do or do not want administered to you in the event of a terminal illness or permanent vegetative state ("Living Wills and Powers," 2014). A living will only takes effect if you become incapacitated and usually requires certification from a doctor that you are suffering from a terminal illness or permanently unconscious. A living will is only used when recovery is ultimately hopeless ("Living Wills and Powers," 2014). The health care power of attorney is the other legal document you should have. This document is where you appoint someone you greatly trust to be your health care proxy to make health care decisions for you and see that health care providers give you the type of care you wish ("Living Wills and Powers," 2014). The health care power of attorney would take effect if the doctor determines you lack the capacity to make your own decisions. Lacking capacity means that you cannot understand the health care choices available to you or their consequences and that you cannot communicate your decisions orally, through gestures or in writing ("Living Wills and Powers," 2014). Your directives remain in effect as long as you are alive, unless you revoke the documents or a court invalidates them. These documents might be the most important documents you ever execute. They give your family clear written directions about your end of life wishes. These documents set out and direct the kinds of treatments you want or don’t want administered and can spare your family anguish about what course to follow ("What Is a Health," n.d.). The article “Death at a