Are doctors obligated to follow your health care directives?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2019 | Probate and Estate Disputes

Individuals draft health care directives to clearly spell the types of medications or life-saving care that they’d want to receive if they became unable to verbalize those same decisions for themselves. It’s commonplace for a doctor to ask a patient or their loved ones if they have a health care directive in place prior to performing surgery or in emergency situations. While this document is generally legally-binding, there are some exceptions to this rule. Most doctors in Cincinnati are under a strict duty to honor the wishes that you include in your health care directive or living will when you’re unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. They’re also legally obligated to listen to and treat a patient in alignment with what your appointed health care agent voices that your wishes are. In most jurisdictions throughout Ohio, doctors can ignore your wishes as spelled out in your health care directives when you’re pregnant. It is possible for you to have them applied when you’re carrying a child, though if you explicitly state that you wish for a doctor to do so. Even if you are clear about your preferences, however, some doctors may still not honor them when you’re pregnant, especially if you’re in your second or third trimester and your directive puts the baby’s life at risk. Another instance in which a doctor may go against your stated wishes is if it has the potential of causing your provider to adopt inferior health care standards to what they’re accustomed to providing. If your stated preferences aren’t aligned with your medical team or hospital’s belief systems or conscience, then they may not adhere to them either. Doctors or facilities that are unwilling to adhere to your wishes are required to inform you or your health care advocate of such right away. If they fail to do so, then they risk being sued for liability. Drafting health care directives isn’t a simple process. You’ll want to discuss certain medical conditions and common ways that they’re treated with your doctor before documenting your preferences. An attorney with experience crafting living wills can help you make sure that all of your wishes are clearly spelled out in a legally enforceable way.