Health Directive – Combo: Living Will and Power of Attorney (Part 2)

A Georgia health directive covers several topics that requires an understanding of medical conditions.  Below I have provided a definition of what you should know when executing a Health Directive.

What Is a Terminal Condition?

Under Georgia law, a terminal condition is an incurable condition caused by disease, illness, or injury. Death will result from the condition and there are no medical conditions that will save the patient. This is an important concept in the context of a living will.  If you are in a state of unconsciousness from which you will not recover, you may elect to not receive life support that will extend your physical body.  To classify a terminal condition under Georgia law, the attending physician and an independent licensed physicians must examine the patient and  certify in writing that there is no reasonable expectation that the medical condition (incurable disease, illness, or injury) will improve and our death will occur as a result of the medical condition.

What Is a Persistent Comatose Condition?

This is a condition where the individual is alive but not able to react or respond and we are not expected to awaken from that comatose condition. (Note: This is not a temporary coma.  This is a condition from which the individual will never recover. The statute defines this as “A persistent comatose condition is defined as a profound or deep state of unconsciousness where there is no reasonable expectation of regaining consciousness.”   Under GA law, your attending physician and an independent physician must examine the patient and certify that, 1) we have been in a deep state of unconsciousness for so long that our doctors conclude that the unconscious state will continue, and 2) there is no reasonable expectation that we will regain consciousness. The living will lets a patient determine whether the patient want life-sustaining measures or continued medical treatment continued though the individual will not wake up from the coma.

What Is a Persistent Vegetative Condition?

This is a severe  mental impairment where the body functions (such as a beating heart and breathing lungs), but our mind is no longer functioning. The bodily is alive, but the brain is dead.  A medical doctor must certify that 1) our cognitive function is substantially impaired , and 2) there is no reasonable expectation that we will regain brain function.  The living will allows us to decide whether we want to continue to receive life support and treatment in this condition.

What Are Life Sustaining Procedures?

This is any medical procedure that serves only to prolong the functionality of the body, but not prevent the natural dying process. This can include the use of a ventilator to breath and a feeding tube for sustenance.   You will be able to make individual choices about fluids and feeding tubes.  You can also make a choice regarding the use of paid medication while we are in this state.  In the living will the patient can choose whether the patient wants to be hooked up to such life-sustaining machines.

What Happens in Cases Where a Person Is Completely Dependent but Not Technically Dying?

In a Helath Directive, there is a component designated to include the provisions of a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  These provisions allow a person to make healthcare decisions for us. These decisions regard the type of treatment that we receive and are different from the questions covered by the living will.  An individual should give this to an individual who they trust and is best suited to make reasonable decision in such a situation.

Jason M. Gordon

www.GAWillsOnline.com

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