What Kind of Medical Care Would You Want if You Were Too Sick to Decide?

New California Law Expands Advance Directive Protection of End of Life Medical


California Medical Association Web Site Offers Legal Forms/Guidelines to Help

Patients Plan Ahead in Case Difficult Decisions Must be Made

Jan 26, 2000, 00:00 ET from California Medical Association

    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
     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