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Far Right Doesn’t Cry “Euthanasia” With VA Advance Directive For Health Care And Living Will!


barattolo_di_pillole_arc_01I’ve been under the Veteran’s Health Care Program for the last 10 years and one of the first questions ever asked of me was, “Do you have a living will on file?”

When that question was asked of me, I didn’t feel threatened or as tho I would be put to death but simply if I had instructions of my own in case of the fact that I might be incapacitated.

I do have a “living will” and I had it placed in my VA file.

With the “living will” question now being played by the far right as a way “to kill seniors,” in the new proposed Universal Health Care, I wonder where their “fear mongering” euthanasia concerns are for the 8 million Veterans under the VA Health Care and who have been asked to fill out VA Form 10-0137?

In getting this post together, I found an interesting study that was done for the Journal Medline by several VA physicians and should be a good indicator how the general public may react to this simple part of Health Care. It’s also worth noting that no-where did anyone state that they “thought they were trying to be killed.”

Most states have adopted legislation that allows patients to designate by advance directives the type of health care they would like to receive if they should become incompetent while suffering from a terminal illness. The living will is one of the most common of these legal instruments. Unlike most studies that have examined very sick or hospitalized patients’ preferences regarding life-sustaining treatments, our study explores the concerns of 70 ambulatory veterans from a general medical clinic regarding living wills. Before the interview, 43% of patients reported never having heard of living wills. At interview, 4% of the patients had a living will, 33% intended to sign a living will but had not done so (INTEND), 54% were undecided about living wills (UNDECIDED), and 9% did not want a living will. Compared with UNDECIDED patients, all other patients did not differ in the use of health care services during the previous year or in diagnoses. INTEND patients, however, were significantly more likely to be white, to express poorer health status, to know someone with a living will, and to have previously discussed the topic. UNDECIDED patients were more likely than INTEND patients to report that religious beliefs about living wills affected their decision. Virtually all (91%) of the respondents believed that signing a living will would not affect their treatment. These data suggest that many patients may not know that they can have a living will and that discussions with those who already have a living will may be helpful in educational programs designed to promote informed patient decision-making.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/05/2009 4:24 pm

    Very interesting blog. Thanks for pointing me to the VA’s health care policies. This is a particularly helpful post as I am looking at the Terri Schiavo case and the legacy of her death in our society, particularly as assisted suicide is being discussed regarding health care reform. Thank you.

  2. tanta permalink
    08/06/2009 10:10 am

    Nice contribution to the “reasoned” discussion.

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