Advance Directives and the Family

The ability of medical technology to prolong life has grown tremendously in recent years. These advances, coupled with highly publicized legal cases involving patients who could not speak for themselves, have raised many questions about how we should care for people at the end of their lives. In its simplest form, an advance directive (AD) is a written statement that details a person's wishes for health care. The document may state choices for certain types of treatments or name someone, a surrogate, to speak on the person's behalf. People have the right to do this, guaranteed by federal legislation. The intent of such documents is to help health care professionals, family, and friends make decisions about a person's health care and treatments should that ...

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