GRADUATE RESEARCH PROJECT
Name: Marilyn L Sails Professor Merita Thompson
Date: November 30, 2010 HEA 793 - Fall 2010
PERSONAL CHOICES: ADVANCE DIRECTIVES
The purpose of advance directives is so that you are making it your right to make decisions about your own medical care. This phrase applies to a wide range of instructions that one might make orally or written about actions that one would or would not want to be taken if one were somehow incapacitated and unable to join in making decisions (Corr et al, 2009). An advance directive is a topic that resonates strongly in my heart. Less than two weeks ago my husband and I had a family crisis and had to make some really difficult healthcare decisions regarding our family member. These decisions were less difficult for us because our loved one had previously given us power-of-attorney. So we knew her wishes prior to her illness and were able to make the correct decisions as a family. Unfortunately, most families don't realize the importance of this legal document until an emergency occurs.
Authors of _Death & Dying, Life & Living_ identify six goals of death education. It is the third goal that will be the focus of my paper. According to Corr et al the third goal of death education is to prepare individuals for their public roles as citizens. In this way, death education helps to clarify important social issues that face society and its representatives, such as advance directives in health care (Corr et al, 2009). We each have the right and responsibility to make healthcare decisions for ourselves. There may be a time, whether from accident or illness, when you are no longer able to make important and necessary medical decisions. This is an opportunity for you to express your wishes and direct your healthcare decisions in advance before they may be needed.
We're living in an age of medical miracles. Tiny babies born months too early can often be saved. Hearts, lungs kidneys and lives can all e transplanted. There are life support machines and devices for almost every purpose. Ventilators to help people breath, cardiac assist devices to take over for the heart, feeding tubes to nourish patients who can't eat, and dialysis to support people with failing kidneys. My husband and I know this all too well with the recent diagnosis of his mother.
Medical advances have saved many lives. But with these advances have come questions about using machines to prolong the natural dying process. Kentucky laws recognize the right of individual's to make choices about their medical care. We have the right to request or refuse treatment and to ask that life prolonging treatment be stopped. We also have the right to make out an advance directive. An advance directive is a legal paper which lets an individual to state their wishes about the use of life support machines and medical treatment. It can also be used to name someone else to make medical choices for them if they become unable to speak for themselves (ccky.org, 2010; Jasper 2007).
According to David Kelly author of _Medical Care at the End of Life: A Catholic Perspective_ claims that treatment can be morally extraordinary only when the person's death is imminent, regardless of whether the treatment is given, is to give biological life itself an absolute value that supersedes all other values." (Kelly, 2006).The decision to make an advance directive is personal one and should only be made after careful consideration. My mother-in-law is currently on full life support and the hospital social worker told us that because she is at a Catholic hospital their philosophy there is that withholding or withdrawing treatment does not cause death, but merely allows the natural process of dying to take place. They further stated that they will not do anything to intentionally cause her death. This was an impromptu interview, but I was able to ask the social worker a few questions...
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