By Norman S. Newmark, JD, LLM
Under a proposed Nevada law, patients and their health care attorneys-in-fact will no longer have control over whether to continue patient life support, if doctors deem such treatment “not effective” or against medical standards. A copy of the bill can be found at https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/80th2019/Bill/6331/Text.
The bill, if enacted into law, may effectively abrogate the patient’s desires as set forth in a living will, health care power of attorney or similar instrument. In short, what doctors determine to be ineffective may not comport with the patient’s written instructions or the directives of the health care attorney. For example, a living will may specify that the condition giving rise to a diagnosis of terminal illness or persistent vegetative state must persist for a period of a month, in case the patient miraculously recovers as happens from time to time. Under the Nevada bill, doctors could terminate life support even if the month has not lapsed.
It is possible similar laws will be enacted in other states. As such, it is important to periodically review and update your living will and health care power of attorney instruments. Changes might include, as examples: (1) your specific wishes as to the length of desired care (or termination of care) after a diagnosis of life threatening illness/injury or persistent vegetative state, or instructions for second and third opinions, (2) giving authority to your attorney-in-fact to expend funds from your trust to move you to a more appropriate facility, or to engage in litigation on your behalf, or (3) designating an individual to serve as attorney-in-fact who is able and willing to carry out your wishes, even as against the life termination decisions of your doctors.
For more information or a review, contact your AEGIS Law attorney, or the author, Norman S. Newmark at firstname.lastname@example.org or (314) 454-9100 x117.