Life-sustaining treatment includes drugs, machines, or medical procedures that would keep you alive but would not cure you. Medical procedures that are life sustaining or life supporting include those procedures that replace or support an essential bodily function. Life-sustaining treatments include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, artificial nutrition and hydration, dialysis, and other treatments.
Your choices regarding life-sustaining treatments can be tailored to specific situations in your health care power of attorney (health care proxy) advance directive or you can decide not to make a choice in regards to life-sustaining treatments. Here are the basic options offered in a health care power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy:
- Life-sustaining treatment: You grant discretion to your agent if any of the following conditions occur (you also choose whether or not you want artificial delivery of food and water)
- I you are in an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state.
- I you are terminally ill and life-sustaining procedures would only serve to artificially delay my death.
- Your medical condition is such that the burdens of treatment outweigh the expected benefits. In making this determination, you may want your Patient Advocate to consider relief of your suffering, the expenses involved, and the quality of life, if prolonged.
- Life-sustaining treatment: Withhold life-sustaining treatment only if you are in a coma or persistent vegetative state that your physician reasonably believes to be irreversible.
- Directive for Maximum Treatment: Your life is to be prolonged to the greatest extent possible consistent with sound medical practice without regard to your condition, your chances or expectations for recovery, or the cost of the procedures.
- Make no decision by not choosing any of the above options.
As mentioned above, the first two options also allow you to choose, separately, whether you want artificial delivery of food and hydration.