SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Life-threatening illness, injury or disease can come at any time. Yet many of us never make it clear to our loved ones and physician exactly what kind of care we would like should such a disaster suddenly render us became unable to decide for ourselves. Do we want medical personnel to attempt "heroic measures" to save us? If need be, do we want to be connected to life support machines? And if so, for how long? Patients can currently make these decisions in advance by completing the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC) form, the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form or by following the California Natural Death Act Guidelines and Declarations (available at the CMA web site at http://www.cmanet.org/publicdoc.cfm/7.) Last November, the California Legislature passed the Health Care Decisions Law to clarify and expand protections governing end-of-life medical decisions. Current California law states that adult persons with decision-making capacity have a right to accept or refuse any proposed medical treatment or procedure, including life-sustaining procedures. Legally binding documents that state your desire to receive or withhold life-sustaining treatment when you do not have decision-making capacity are known as "advance directives" or "living wills." These documents guide physicians as to the type of care their patients want to receive should the patient become incapacitated and unable to communicate decisions regarding the amount and type of health care they wish to receive in a life-threatening situation. The new Health Care Decisions Law will become effective July 1, 2000. California Medical Association will create a new advance directive form to replace its current DPAHC and Natural Death Act Declarations forms. Existing forms will be valid even after the new forms are made available. By visiting the web site of the California Medical Association, patients can download forms to help them prepare legally binding documents that spell out exactly what and how much medical care they would like in the event of an emergency. Dedicated to the health of all Californians, California Medical Association (http://www.cmanet.org) represents more than 34,000 California physicians from all regions, modes of practice and medical specialties.
SOURCE California Medical Association