Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care will protect you.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I received a call from a supporter of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) who was concerned about a family member (woman) who had a serious stroke.


The family was told by the physician that they would offer this woman no further medical treatment only comfort care. The woman who had the stroke was able to respond to questions, but she was considered to lack the capacity to make medical decisions for herself. When asked if she wanted treatment to continue she nodded YES and when asked if she wanted medical treatment to stop she nodded NO.

It is important to know:
1. Physicians are not legally obligated to provide medical treatment that they believe to be futile, burdensome, excessive.2. In Ontario, decisions to provide no treatment are considered to be legal treatment decisions. You have the right to legally challenge treatment and non-treatment decisions.
The supporter asked me what to do? I explained to the supporter the options that are available. I emphasized:
1. Who is the Power of Attorney for Personal Care or Substitute Decision Maker.2. Was there a legal power of attorney document that expressed what this woman would want.3. Since there was not a legal power of attorney document to refer to, I asked: Is the family united or is there division? This is an important question because without a legal power of attorney document, when a person is considered incapacitated, it is far easier to maintain the wishes or values of a person when the family is in agreement.4. I gave this person information concerning possible legal avenues.
The next day I spoke to the supporter who had contacted me and I learned that the family was divided and it was confirmed that no Power of Attorney for Personal Care document existed.

This was a problem. Some of the family disagreed and at least one family member agreed with the physician.

If the woman had legally signed and put in place our Power of Attorney for Personal Care document, then this problem could have been averted.

EPC distributes the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $25 per copy. Thousands of people have purchased this document and many family or friends have contacted us to tell us how smooth everything went after the physician finds out that they have our legal Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care.

The other problem is that most Power of Attorney for Personal Care documents use a template based on language that will not protect you.

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care will protect your life and it costs much less than a document, that may not protect your life, that you would purchase from a lawyer. The wording in the document was specifically chosen to assure that you will receive beneficial and necessary treatment, you will not be dehydrated to death, that your wishes will be upheld and that the person you designate will be the one who makes all medical and care decisions.

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney can be used throughout Canada.

Link to the information on our website.

To buy the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care through paypal.

1 comment:

Annie said...

Alex, There are a few important points missing from your post.

The College of Physicians (ontario) allows doctors to withdraw or withhold treatment if they believe it to almost certainly not of benefit or of permanent benefit.
NOTE: BENEFIT IS NOT DEFINED

It is almost important to know that there is no obligations on the part of doctors to inform the family of their unilateral treatment plan. If a family knows, and disagrees, then they can take action by challenging in court by paying for treatment in another country.

The notions that "futility" related to treatment that will not make a difference to the medical status of a person is a very outdated notion. Futility is a quality of life judgement.

Just read this for the "working definition" of medical futility by the intensive care community.
http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/177/10/1201

Families of vulnerable patients must be very proactive in their care. They must ask the doctor if he/she is withholding care or not doing something (tests etc) that he/she might do for another patient. NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING. NEVER LEAVE A VULNERABLE PERSON ALONE IN HOSPITAL. ALWAYS ASK AND CHECK EVERY MEDICATION. This is particularly true in the ICU.

The Patient or substitute decision maker has a right to view the medical records. It is important to review them regularly. DNR orders do not necessarily read "do not resuscitate". It could say "not for intubation" which is the same effect for someone with a respiratory condition.

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