The state of Illinois expressly recognizes the rights of its citizens to make their own decisions regarding the medical care they wish to receive, even following the diagnosis or acquisition of a terminal condition. According to the law, a person may choose to have death delaying procedures withheld or withdrawn in accordance with his or own personal desires, regardless of his or her ability to make such decisions in the moment. Thus, many individuals will utilize a living will to establish their wishes regarding death delaying procedures well in advance.
What are Death Delaying Procedures?
The Illinois Living Will Act defines a death delaying procedure as a “medical procedure or intervention which, when applied to a qualified patient, in the judgement of the attending physician would only serve to postpone the moment of death.” In general, these are actions that merely delay physical death without a real hope of curing the underlying cause of the patient’s conditions. Typically, death delaying procedures include:
- Assisted ventilation for breathing;
- Kidney treatments such as dialysis;
- Intravenous feeding or medications;
- Blood transfusions; and
- Intubated feeding.
Death delaying procedures do not include normal nutrition or hydration, and the food and water may not be withheld or withdrawn.
Creating Your Living Will
As you think about possible end-of-life scenarios, it is important to include your family and your doctor in the discussion. While your decisions are truly your own, your doctor and your family should be aware of your desires well in advance so that, in the heat of a stressful moment, your wishes are observed as planned. You may decide, for example, that you wish have to death delayed as long as possible, regardless of cost or quality of life. Alternatively, you may wish to forego all death delaying procedures once your doctor has determined your condition to be terminal. The answer for many is somewhere in between; certain procedures are fine, while you find others to be unnecessary.
Work With a Legal Professional
While reaching a decision regarding death delaying procedures is incredibly personal and, often, very difficult, it is also necessary to ensure your wishes are properly recorded. If not done correctly, they may not be executed as expected if and when the time comes. For help with drafting your living will and answers to any other legal questions you may have, contact an experienced Orland Park elder law attorney. We proudly help the residents of northern Illinois create the security they need for themselves and their families. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule your free consultation at Kezy & Associates today.