Hello, this is my first post on this forum (sorry its so long) and at the moment I’m just after some opinions.
I’m a professional trustee in New Zealand. In my line of work part of what I do is a lot of estate planning and write a lot of Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney etc. One aspect of my job that is starting to become more prevelant (especially since Terri Schiavo) is enquiries about directives on medical interventions. This will normally mean an Advance Directive (more commonly referred to as a Living Will). These occupy a kind of grey area in New Zealand law but under the current climate they would certainly be acted on.
I’m pretty uncomfortable with advising on these, but ultimately I’m going to be in a position where I’m asked to prepare one - in fact I’ve just noticed that our call centre has booked in an appointment for me to draw one of these up next week.
Below I’ve attached a draft copy of a Living Will. What I’m interested in is opinions on my moral responsibility with regards to taking instruction and advising on these.
Any thoughts are welcome.
THIS IS A DECLARATION OF MY WISHES for my physician, and medical practitioner and/or hospital where I am placed, my solicitor, family and clergy.
WHEN in the opinion of my attending physician(s) there is no reasonable prospect of my recovery from physical or mental illness or impairment expected to cause me severe distress or render me incapable of rational existence (and in this regard I DECLARE that I consider a period of three (3) months to be sufficient time for such decision to be made);
OR if I have been unconscious for a preiod of two (2) months;
OR if I am in a terminal condition or in a condition of unconsciousness from which I am unlikely to recover;
**OR **if I suffer a severe stroke or other event, illness or injury accompanied by or resulting in total loss of intellectual capacity, speech or movement likely to be permanent and I no longer have the medical capacity to accept or decline life-sustaining treatment then my express instructions are as follows:
**1. SEE **that my present legal right to refuse treatments and medications is respected and that I still have the care and attention to keep me comfortable even if the approach of death is hastened.
2. DO NOT give me any treatment or employ any techniques and/or equipment designed to prolong my life.
**3. DO NOT **resuscitate me.
**4. DO NOT **give me any sustenance beyond the minimal amounts necessary to prevent my obvious distress.
5. SEE that I receive the quantity of drugs required to keep me free from pain and distress even if the approach of death is hastened.
**6. DO NOT **employ any techniques to maintain existence that is purely physical (commonly know as “vegetable existence”).
IF for any reason the physician attending me is unable to accept my instructions and to follow the declaration and wishes set out above, I respect his or her decision and fully relieve him or her from further responsibility for my care. However i request that he or she respect my wishes and take steps to transfer me to the are of a physician who can accept my instructions.
THIS DECLARATION is voluntarily made by me ##### being of sound mind and body after careful consideration and I confirm I have discussed its contents with my personal care and welfare attorney.
*Signed and witnessed etc - plus a declaration from a medical practitioner to say that the person making the Living Will is of sound mind etc *