The purpose of an advance directive is to have a written statement stating the type and amount of care a person wishes to receive during a terminal illness. (Medical Law and Ethics, 2008, pp. 102) An advance directive is a very important part of life once you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or even if you are getting older and doubt the degree to which you will be taken care of.
Three types of advance directives are living wills, a durable power of attorney, and a do not resuscitate (DNR). A Living will is a document that you draft before becoming too incompetent to make your own medical decisions. A Durable power of attorney is a legal document that empowers another person to make healthcare decisions regarding your care when incompetent. A Do-Not-Resuscitate, or DNR, is an order indicating that you do not wish to be resuscitated if your breathing should cease. A DNR should be filed with your medical chart and/or your medical records.
The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act is where a person 18 years of age or older and competent enough to make the decision on their own, can donate any part of their body to medical research or donation. For example, I am an organ donor. I am a smoker, so when I die I know that my lungs will be no good for donation. There are a lot more organs that can be donated in place of my bad lungs though.
Regarding the case of the gentleman finding out that he has cancer, he has every right to an advance directive. He actually has a right to every advance directive that is available if he so chooses them. He has the right because, depending on the type of cancer he has, he is competent enough to make the decision to have the advance directives.
The patient in turn, also has the right to refuse the treatment. There is no definite yes or no to whether the treatment will cure him and if he does not want to go through with the hassle of going through chemo or drug after drug to “try” to cure him, then he shouldn’t have to.
In this situation, my role as a medical assistant is to be the bearer of bad news. I would be the one responsible for telling the patient he has cancer. I would have to also be the one to transfer his charts to the oncologist that he is being referred to. Once the oncologist has the charts, he can speak to them and make it known that he does not want the treatment.
If the surgery was performed without consent from the patient, he could in turn sue the physician for assault. The physician, knowing that the patient did not want any kind of treatment, procedure, etc., to “cure” him of this cancer could be sued for assault for doing so anyway. The patient wrote out a living will once he found out about his illness, and requested it to be put into his file, so there is no way that the physician could say that he didn’t know. If the surgery were performed, it would be an intentional tort. The physician would have intentionally gone against the word of the patient and did what he wanted to do.
This could be a civil lawsuit. Again, the physician did not follow what the patient had put into writing. He also told someone of his wishes regarding the treatment. Therefore, this would be a civil suit because the physician broke the law by not abiding by the patients’ wishes.
I reside in the state of Michigan. According to the information I found regarding statutes and limitations regarding a lawsuit, the suit must be filed between 6 months to 2 years of when the plaintiff discovers what has happened. If it is a minor that the act happened to, the parent or guardian has 1 year, after the child’s birthday to file the suit.