Ensuring Your Health Care Directives Are Respected

The Obligations of Medical Professionals To Adhere to Your Health Care Wishes

When you take the step to outline your preferences for medical care through instruments such as a living will or an advance directive, it’s natural to wonder if medical practitioners might disregard your specified instructions.

At Goldberg & Goldberg, we want you to have peace of mind knowing that medical professionals are, in most cases, obligated to act in accordance with your documented health care choices—and to respect the decisions of your designated health care proxy, provided those decisions are within a reasonable interpretation of your stipulated desires.

There are, however, certain exceptions when a medical provider may legally refuse to fulfill the choices made by you or your health care proxy. These exceptions include circumstances where:

  • the choice contradicts the personal moral beliefs of the health care professional,
  • the choice is inconsistent with the ethical policies of the medical institution, grounded in conscientious reasons, or
  • the choice would result in care that is not medically beneficial or contravenes widely accepted medical standards.

Nonetheless, your health care directives cannot simply be disregarded. Should a provider choose not to follow your directives or the instructions from your health care agent, they must notify you or your representative without delay. Moreover, upon your request, the provider is then responsible for arranging your transfer to another health care professional or facility that is willing to uphold your wishes. Be aware that in certain jurisdictions, deliberate infringement of these protocols by a health care provider might lead to legal accountability for damages.

How Pregnancy Impacts the Execution of Your Health Care Directives

One particular condition that might trigger the contesting or outright dismissal of your health care wishes involves pregnancy. Should the potential for pregnancy exist, it is wise to clarify your instructions for scenarios where your health care directives take effect while you are expecting.

Nonetheless, the likelihood of medical professionals honoring your directives is influenced by various elements, such as the stage of your pregnancy, the associated risks to your well-being and that of the fetus, and the individual policies of the attending physicians and facilities. During the later stages of pregnancy, preferably the second or third trimester, medical caregivers are more inclined to provide all necessary treatments aimed at preserving the lives of both you and the unborn child.

Moreover, legislative measures in various states prescribe that the withdrawal or withholding of life support treatment from a pregnant woman may not occur—or that such actions should not be undertaken if the pregnancy is viable.

Understand your rights and ensure that your health care directives are given the respect they deserve. For assistance with these sensitive matters, contact Goldberg & Goldberg at (301) 654-5757 for a Free Consultation, where we’re committed to guiding you through the complexities of health care law.

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