Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Who Controls End of Life Decisions?

Sad case that I intended to link last week.  A young woman was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and eventually received a breathing tube. When she requested that the tube be removed so she could die, her parents sought guardianship of her.  A court found her competent to make her own decision and denied her parents' request. In an odd turn of events, she changed her mind and kept the tube in place to preserve peace with her parents.

A few points:

1.  The case was correctly decided.  The parents had no right to interfere in the decisions of their adult child.

2.  If she had not been found competent, she would have been best served by having a health care power of attorney which designated someone who shared her beliefs to make her decisions. 

3.  We all should have conversations with our family members so they know our wishes and how we wish they would respond to specific medical situations.  As tempting as it might be to get all potentially controversial topics on the table at once, save the conversation about differing views on religion, political candidates, and gay marriage for a different time