A recent Texas case highlights the need for effective living wills, do not resuscitate orders and effective communications with family and healthcare providers. Sally Jordan died in 2015 after she had been resuscitated against her wishes after healthcare workers violated her do not resuscitate order (DNRO). A lawsuit filed by family members allege that the violation of their mother's DNRO caused much suffering and pain the last ten days of her life. The suit alleges that her healthcare providers ignored Ms. Jordan's wishes to be allowed to die comfortably without painful, unwanted medical treatment, as stipulated in her advance directive.
The reality is that living wills have not helped us die more peaceful deaths in the United States. Study after study has found that living wills have not had the desired effect of allowing us to die without unwanted or unnecessary treatments at end of life. So what can you do to make sure that our living will is effective and that your wishes are followed?
- Have a good living will that effectively communicates your wishes. Our law firm provides a very specific living will that provides clear direction under a variety of circumstances.
- Talk with your family about what you would want at the end of your life. No form beats a good discussion with your entire family about your end of life wishes.
- Choose your health care surrogate wisely. Make sure he or she will follow you wishes and has the capacity to question medical providers.
- Make sure your family and medical providers have a copy of your advance directives.
I have written more about Florida living wills and end of life wishes at this blog post, but you can never be too prepared on these issues.