Advance Directives

Advance Directives - It has long been recognised in Scotland that an adult with legal capacity has the right to influence his or her medical treatment. This includes the right to refuse to accept medical treatment at all if the adult so wishes. Some people refuse certain treatments due to religious beliefs. More commonly nowadays people refuse certain treatments because of possible side effects or because they believe coping with the illness may be easier than accepting significant treatments which may have limited chances of success.

This is absolutely not anything to do with assisted dying. It is not about having a car crash and your heart stops and not being resuscitated. People should have absolutely no fears that an Advance Directive would stop them getting any appropriate lifesaving treatment in the above or any other scenario.

An Advance Directive is simply a clear statement in advance to someone’s doctors and relatives as to their wishes regarding healthcare and treatment should certain extreme conditions arise. These are if the person was suffering from a terminal condition, was incapable of communication and understanding and also had only a short time to live.  At that point the medical professionals would really like to know what the person’s wishes as to treatment were, and they would follow them. Consequently the existence of a Directive really helps medical staff treating the patient towards the end of life.

Preparing an Advance Directive is quite straightforward. It simply is a document signed by someone – usually prepared by a solicitor and witnessed by a solicitor – but not always. The document spells out the person’s wishes clearly. At Caesar & Howie we recommend that clients make their next of kin and their welfare attorney (assuming they have one) aware of the existence of the directive and what it says. We a so strongly recommend to clients that they prepare these documents when they are fit and well and way in advance of any illness striking. Probably In excess of 40% of pensioners in Scotland can get legal aid to prepare these documents usually completely free.

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