A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (commonly referred to as a Directive to Physicians, Advance Directive, or Living Will) is a legal document that allows you to communicate your medical treatment preferences to your healthcare providers.
This document also lets you communicate with your loved ones in the event you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself because of illness or injury.
You can read more about Directives to Physicians below. If you have questions, please contact us online or call (254) 252-3590.
When Does a Directive to Physicians Apply?
A Directive to Physicians applies when, in the judgment of your physician, you are suffering with a terminal or irreversible condition and are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
“Terminal condition” means an incurable condition caused by injury, disease, or illness that according to reasonable medical judgment will produce death within six months, even with available life-sustaining treatment provided in accordance with the prevailing standard of medical care.
“Irreversible condition” means a condition, injury, or illness that:
- May be treated, but is never cured or eliminated,
- Leaves a person unable to care for or make decisions for the person’s own self, and
- Without life-sustaining treatment provided in accordance with the prevailing standard of medical care, is fatal.
If you are diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition and are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, a Directive to Physicians may:
- Request that all treatments other than those needed to keep you comfortable be discontinued and withheld and that your physician allow you to die as gently as possible, or
- Request that you be kept alive in your terminal or irreversible condition using available life sustaining-treatment.
“Life-sustaining treatment” means treatment that, based on reasonable medical judgment, sustains the life of a patient and without which the patient will die.
The term includes both life-sustaining medications and artificial life support such as mechanical breathing machines, kidney dialysis treatment, and artificially administered nutrition and hydration.
The term does not include the administration of pain management medication, the performance of a medical procedure necessary to provide comfort care, or any other medical care provided to alleviate a patient’s pain.
Why Should I Have a Directive to Physicians?
You have the right to make decisions about your medical treatment. But if your condition is terminal or irreversible, you may not be able to communicate your wishes. With a Directive to Physicians, you can remain in control.
Having a Directive to Physicians lets your medical team and your loved ones know your wishes. This includes whether you would want to be on life support, so that if tragedy strikes, you can be sure that you will receive the care you want.
In addition, having a Directive to Physicians can help relieve the burden on your loved ones, who may otherwise be forced to make difficult medical decisions on your behalf without knowing your wishes.
By putting a plan in place, you can give your loved ones peace of mind when the time comes to make critical decisions.
Finally, having a Directive to Physicians that provides clarity and guidance to your healthcare providers can help avoid conflicts and even legal battles among family members with different opinions on what medical treatments to pursue.
How a Waco Living Will Attorney Can Help You
If you do not have a Directive to Physicians and would like to ensure that your end-of-life wishes are properly documented, contact us online or call (254) 252-3590 today to speak to our experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys.
Is a Directive to Physicians the Same as a DNR?
Directives to Physicians are often confused with Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders (DNRs). Both Directives to Physicians and DNRs are legal documents that relate to end-of-life medical care, but they serve different purposes and have different legal implications.
A Directive to Physicians allows you to make your end-of-life medical wishes known in advance, should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself.
A DNR is a medical order that instructs medical providers not to attempt atrial defibrillation or CPR if your heart stops beating or if you stop breathing.
It is important to note that a DNR does not address other medical treatments or end-of-life care.
If you have questions about the differences between Directives to Physicians and DNRs, the living will lawyers at The Zimmerman Law Firm are here to help.
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Directives to Physicians FAQs
A directive to physicians, also known as an advance directive or living will, is a legal document that allows you to communicate your end-of-life medical treatment preferences in advance.
Yes, you can revoke or change your directive to physicians in Texas at any time, as long as you are of sound mind and able to communicate your wishes.