The Health Care Proxy and the Living Will
Annas, George J.
New England Journal of Medicine. 1991 Apr 25; 324(17): 1210-1213.
Between 1976 and 1991, 40 states enacted living will statutes. Though these statutes have made it easier for physicians to honor the wishes of incapacitated patients, their limitations have necessitated greater simplification of the decision making process. This need is met by the health care proxy. Health care proxy laws enable competent adults to appoint surrogates to make treatment decisions for them in the event that they become unable to decide for themselves. The goal of the health care proxy is to allow patients' desires to be honored and to simplify the decision making process. Annas criticizes recent efforts to complicate the health care proxy with paperwork and judicial obstruction, and presents a model one-page form which has met the requirements of existing New York and Massachusetts health care proxy laws and of various legal and medical associations. (KIE abstract)
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