In 2005, the tragic Florida case of Terri Schiavo illustrated the importance of decision making for end of life treatment. Unfortunately Ms. Schiavo had not expressed her wishes in a written document, known as a Living Will. The battle over her wishes resulted in the involvement of the federal and state government not to mention the acrimony among family members. End of life planning requires a person to consider numerous issues such as the use of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, hydration, nutrition, use of antibiotics and pain management to name a few. As part of our comprehensive planning, the Living Will is an essential document.
The medical community recently adopted the use of a document known as the Physician’s Order on Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Physicians often recommend that their patients complete and sign a POLST document oftentimes without adequate explanation as to their use. We counsel our clients on the appropriateness of this document and how it fits into a comprehensive plan.