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What is a Living Will

What happens when a person suffers from an illness or an accident that renders them incapable of deciding their own course of treatment? It is a scenario which occurs more often than one might expect; there are various diseases which strip away the power of speech and even consciousness long before they actually claim the body, and of course most people are well aware of the potential injuries from various types of accidents. In a case where a person's health has been affected to the point where they can no longer give direction to medical personal about their wishes, there are only two options. The first is that the medial personnel must make the treatment decision; this is not preferred in a case where a patient wishes to avoid a lifetime in a vegetative state, or certain types of treatment. The other option is a living will.

A living will sets out a specific course of action in the event that a person suffers to the extent that they can no longer say their desired course of action. A living will may either directly state what treatments are or are not acceptable to the patient, or they may appoint a health proxy, a person who determines the course of action for the patient. It's important to understand that living wills do not come into effect with any accident where a person loses consciousness; they are only applied when their condition is thought to be irreversible. This might make one think that the living will is pretty cut and dried, but in some cases it is not as clear as we would like it to be; a coma as a result of a car accident, for example, may in fact be recovered from, although medical statistics would demonstrate this does not happen very often.

The upshot of the living will is that it ensures that a person retains power over their life or death even when they can no longer communicate for themselves. It also means that the decision over termination or continuance is taken out of the hands of people who care for the patient; the decision is already made. For those people in particular with religious beliefs concerning treatment, a living will can be very important. Living wills can forbid medical personnel from attempting certain revival techniques, and they can also provide an escape for those with terminal, pain causing illnesses.

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