When you are ill, you can usually discuss treatment options with your doctor and then jointly reach a decision about your future care.
However, you may be admitted to hospital when unconscious or unable, (on a temporary or on a permanent basis), to make your own decisions about your treatment or communicate your wishes. This may happen, for example, if you have a car accident or a stroke, or perhaps develop dementia. To use the technical term, you would ‘lack mental capacity’ to make an informed decision and/or communicate your wishes. One exception to this is if you have made an advance decision refusing treatment. If this decision is valid and applicable to the circumstances, medical professionals providing your care are bound to follow it.
The term ‘Living Will’ could be used to refer to either an Advance Decision or an Advance Statement. The former is a decision to refuse treatment and is legally binding whereas the latter is any other decision about how you would like to be treated.
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