In the current climate, it is important to consider your wishes and values when it comes to medical treatment and assess whether an Advanced Care Directives is right for you. Stephanie Rendell, Associate Solicitor and Head of Wills & Estates at RNG Lawyers explains Advanced Care Directives, their purpose and how they are used.
An Advance Care Directive is a document which is prepared with your Doctor. It sets out your values, specific instructions and/or preferences regarding medical treatment. It is a document that will be used by your health care professional in the event that you do not have capacity to make decisions regarding your medical treatment.
The document can be worded in a very specific way setting out specific medical treatment that you will/will not have and the circumstances in which there is medical treatment that you will/will not have. Alternatively, an Advanced Care Directive can be expressed more as values, priorities and preferences of matters that are important to you.
An example of a very specific instructional directive would be that you do not wish to have a blood transfusion in any circumstance. An example of a values-based instruction may be expressing something that is important to you, for instance, it may be important to you to be able to do some things independently (such as breathing) on a long term basis without the support of certain medical apparatus.
The document is a serious legal document and it is important that you talk through the various scenarios with your doctor to ensure that you have clear understanding of how the Advanced Care Directive could be interpreted in various hypothetical situations.
It is not mandatory to have an Advanced Care Directive and it is important to note that your Medical Treatment Decision Maker has have an obligation to give consideration to your wishes and the decision that you would have made should you have been able to make those decisions for yourself. This applies even though you have not formally recorded those wishes in an Advanced Care Directive.
An Advanced Care Directive is an important document for people who have strong wishes regarding their medical treatment decisions and who want those wishes recorded in a way that is readily accessible by the medical profession in the event of an emergency.
An Advanced Care Directive can also be a useful tool for individuals who do not have suitable friends and family members who can take on the role as Medical Treatment Decision Maker for them.
RNG Lawyers can advise on draft Advanced Care Directives that have been prepared in consultation with a medical practitioner and advise on the legal aspects of these documents. We are unable to advise on the medical implications of the document and so we work alongside your preferred medical practitioner as a team to give you the best advice.