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A Patient’s Rights

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 911
  • Category: Medicine

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A patient has the right to approve or give consent, permission for all treatment. In giving consent for treatment, patents reasonable expect that their physician will use the appropriate standard of care in providing care and treatment, that is, the physician will use the same skill the other physicians use in treating patients with the same ailments in the same geographic locality. Every patient has a right to live and die with dignity. (Fremgen, 2009)

Several documents executed by the patient, called self-determination documents or advance directives, state the patient’s intentions for healthcare-related decisions and in some cases name another person as proxy to make decisions for the patients. An advance directive is a written statement in which people state the type and amount of care they wish to receive during a terminal illness and as death approaches. These documents include living wills, durable power of attorney, and organ donation. (Fremgen, 2009)

A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. It can also be referred to as an advance directive, health care directive, or a physician’s directive. The requirements for a living will vary by state so you may want to have a lawyer prepare your living will. Generally, a living will describes certain life prolonging treatments. You indicate which treatments you do or do not want applied to you in the event you either suffer from a terminal illness or are in a permanent vegetative state. A living will does not become effective unless you are incapacitated; until then you’ll be able to say what treatments you do or don’t want. (ExpertHub.com, 2012)

A durable power of attorney (DPOA)is a type of advance directive, that an individual executes legal documents that provide the power of attorney to others in the case of an A Patients’ Rights in capacitating medical condition. The durable power of attorney allows an individual to make bank transactions, sign social security checks, apply for disability, or simply write checks to pay the utility bill while an individual is medically incapacitated.

Some common scenarios where these directives can help with the decision making process are coma, persistent vegetative state, severe brain injury, strokes, advanced Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, critical medical illness affecting mental capacity. An example when the use of a advance directive might be used is when someone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer, the individual may, on repeated occasions, forget to turn off an iron or fail to recall which of the morning’s medicines were taken. Mild personality changes, such as less spontaneity, apathy, and a tendency to withdraw from social interactions, may occur early in the illness. As the disease progresses, problems in abstract thinking and in other intellectual functions develop.

The person may begin to have trouble with figures when working on bills, with understanding what is being read, or with organizing the day’s work. Further disturbances in behavior and appearance may also be seen at this point, such as agitation, irritability, quarrelsomeness, and a diminishing ability to dress appropriately. In late stages of the disease, persons may become totally incapable of caring for themselves. Death can then follow, perhaps from pneumonia or some other problem that occurs in severely deteriorated states of health. Those who develop the disorder later in life more often die from other illnesses (such as heart disease) rather than as a consequence of Alzheimer’s disease. (MedicineNet, 1996-2012) The following is a sample of a living will:

A Living Will
A Patients’ Rights
To my family, physician, lawyer & others whom it may concern: Death is as much a reality as birth, growth, maturity, and old age. Death is the one certainty of life. If the time comes when I can no longer take part in decisions for my own future, let this statement stand as an expression of my wishes and directions, while I am still of sound mind. If at such a time the situation should arise in which there is no reasonable expectation of my recovery from extreme physical or mental disability, I direct that I be allowed to die and not be kept alive by medications, artificial means or “heroic measures.” I do, however, ask that medication be mercifully administered to me to alleviate suffering even though this may shorten my remaining life. This statement is made after careful consideration and is in accordance with my strong convictions and beliefs. I want the wishes and directions here expressed carried out to the extent permitted by law. Insofar as they are not legally enforceable, I hope that those to whom this will is addressed will regard themselves as morally bound by these provisions.

In conclusion, I believe that everyone should create their own living wills. Today we do not know if we will make it home to our loved ones every day. It is best that you let you spouse, children, and friends know what your wishes are or might be, because one day this living will just might be your only contact with the outside world. Everyone does have the right to die with dignity.


ExpertHub.com. (2012). What Is a Living Will. Retrieved December 16, 2012, from AllLaw.com: http://www.alllaw.com/articles/wills_and_trusts/article7.asp Fremgen, B. F. (2009). Medical Law and Ethics, Third Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson
Education. MedicineNet, I. (1996-2012). Advance Medical Directives. Retrieved December 16, 2012, from MedicineNet.com: http://www.medicinenet.com/advance_medical_directives/page3.htm#when_do_advance_directives_become_helpful

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