In the wake of the 2005, Terri Schiavo case, many authorities urged Americans to complete advance directives. Every state authorizes these legal documents, which allow a person to specify whether and under what circumstances she or he wants life-preserving medical treatment, food or fluids when no longer able to make health care decisions.
However, the laws of all but twelve states may allow doctors and hospitals to disregard advance directives when they call for treatment, food, or fluids.
Increasingly, health care providers who consider a patient’s “quality of life” too low are denying life-preserving measures against the will of patients and families – and the laws of most states provide no effective protection against this involuntary denial.
The result: in most states, if you want life-saving treatment – or even food and fluids – there is no guarantee your wishes will be honored, even if you make them clear in a valid advance directive.