Advance directives allow you to designate an individual to make healthcare decisions for you should an illness or accident leave you incapacitated. Two common directives are a healthcare power of attorney and a living will because they empower you to continue directing your own medical care.
Many people decline the opportunity to create advance medical directives. They believe it will give another person unlimited power over them at an extremely vulnerable time. You can rest easy about these invaluable estate planning tools if you know what your designated agent cannot do.
They cannot act without medical support
Contrary to common belief, your chosen agent or attorney-in-fact may not indiscriminately make treatment decisions that terminate your life. For example, they cannot withdraw life-prolonging treatment unless two physicians confirm patients are permanently unconscious or in a terminal condition.
The same physician confirmation rules apply for withholding artificial hydration and nutrition from you as you approach the end of life.
They cannot withhold comfort care
Under Ohio law, no attorney-in-fact can order the removal of treatments recommended to promote your comfort as you near death. Examples of comfort care are:
- Providing pain and nausea relief
- Ceasing blood draws and needle sticks
- Offering spiritual and emotional support
- Canceling lab tests and diagnostic measures
- Providing anti-anxiety therapy (breathing exercises, etc.)
Comfort care ensures no one suffers from preventable pain, anxiety and discomfort as they prepare to leave their loved ones behind.
Hopefully, this blog post addressed some of your concerns about advance healthcare directives. An ideal next step is to continue exploring estate planning options that allow you to control your medical care, regardless of your condition.