All individuals living in the United States are guaranteed through our legal system the protection that; “ all persons are competent to make reasoned decisions unless demonstrated to be otherwise”.
Corbally, Gartland and Rappleyea, LLP remains committed to protecting the legal rights of patients and families. Medical innovation has created a scenario that may be adverse to patient goals of care. Patients should be wholly involved in the decision-making process regarding their medical treatment.
Not long ago, medical care of those seriously ill was generally physician-directed. The decision to provide treatment was based largely in clinical interpretation and outcomes; and often without consideration of the patient’s goals of care.
The landmark decision in 1976, New Jersey Supreme Court in re Quinlan, determined that a patient or his/her guardian had the right to refuse unwanted life-sustaining treatment even if doing so resulted in death. The response from the public was immediate; “patients should have the means of communicating their health care related values and goals in the event they are unable to communicate this for themselves”.
In 1990, the Supreme Court’s Cruzan decision prompted the passing of the Patient Self Determination Act (PSDA). The PSDA requires all health care institutions throughout the United States and District of Columbia that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to inform patients of their right to make their health care preferences known through the execution of a living will and/or appoint a surrogate to make decisions for them.
Despite these protections, physicians and caregivers report that this comprehensive tool is completely underutilized. Physician’s report that critical medical decision-making is interrupted, the patient’s wishes are often marginalized, and family members are generally left with little or no information or ability to execute the patient’s wishes. Tremendous angst often surrounds these already highly charged situations often creating additional strain in families. Healthcare institutions and medical professionals are often compromised when the “unknown” inhibits the ability to execute needed/desired medical treatments.
Corbally, Gartland and Rappleyea, LLP encourages all individuals, especially those who are advanced in age and/or chronically ill, to seek guidance and education from their health care providers. Should additional counsel be necessary and for the execution of necessary documents, our attorneys are determined to see that all individual’s rights and goals are protected.
For more information on how to execute a Living Will and Advance Directives, please call 845-454-1110. The attorneys available to assist you are Allan B. Rappleyea, Paul O. Sullivan, or Rena M O’Connor.
Please visit www.cgrlaw.com for more information about our legal practice and your needs.