Interested in more news on the Right to Die? ERGO circulates on a regular basis an electronic newslist with news from around the world.
It is best for a patient to inform a physician early on in his or her care that he or she has a living will, or other form of advance directives. Not only does this information get included in the patient's chart, but by raising the issue, the physician has an opportunity to clarify any questions he or she may have about the patient's wishes, point out possible problems or inconsistencies, and discuss the possibility of the patient discussing these wishes with his or her care providers and family.
However, advance directives take effect only in situations where a patient is unable to participate directly in medical decision making. Some directives are written to apply only in particular clinical situations, such as when the patient has a "terminal" condition or an "incurable" illness. These ambiguous terms mean that directives must be interpreted by the patient's caregivers after the patient loses his or her decisional capacity. More recent forms of instructive directives have attempted to overcome this ambiguity by either addressing specific interventions (e.g. blood transfusions or CPR) that are to be prohibited in all clinical contexts.