WU Health and Medical Advance Directives Discussion

Assignment: Preparing for the End

Advance directives resulted from the controversy surrounding the case of Nancy Beth Cruzan, a young Missouri woman who suffered injuries in a car accident in January 1983 and who was kept alive in an irreversible vegetative state for almost eight years.

Cruzan’s parents went to court to order the hospital to remove the feeding tube that was keeping their daughter alive. The hospital appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, spurring national debate about how and when families can allow a loved one to die. In 1990, the court recognized a constitutional right to forgo life-sustaining treatment when it is clear the patient would have wanted to do so. The feeding tube was removed, and Cruzan died, surrounded by her family.

While the decisions can be difficult, preparing for the end is an activity that has to happen before it is needed. Advance directives are documents that a person can complete which lets his or her wishes be known about healthcare, life saving measures, and designated people who can make decisions if the need arises.

In this Assignment, you will examine your state’s laws regarding end-of-life advance directives (do-not-resuscitate [DNR], durable power of attorney for healthcare, living will, etc.) and complete one of these documents. (Note: You will not be asked to share your completed document, only reflect upon it).

To prepare for this Assignment:

  • Research your state or province’s laws regarding end-of-life advance directives such as do-not-resuscitate orders, durable power of attorney for health care, and living wills.
  • Complete at least one of the end-of-life advance directives listed above. See the AARP website in the Learning Resource for the downloadable forms. (Note: You will not be asked to share your completed document, only reflect upon it).

To complete this Assignment, write a 2- to 3-page paper, which addresses the following:

  • What types of end-of-life advance directives does your jurisdiction allow?
  • After completing the document, assess your feelings about the process. Was the document simple to complete for you? Was it challenging? Expand on your feelings of planning ahead for end-of-life decisions.
  • What factors contributed to you selecting the specific document that you completed?
  • What legal issues did you consider when you were completing the end-of-life document?
  • What ethical factors and principles did you consider when completing the end-of-life document?
  • Should healthcare providers be required to honor advance directives regardless of personal belief and institutional settings?
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