This past week, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a bill into law that makes it legal for a dying person to end his or her life. When Brown signed the bill, he also released a letter to the state assembly explaining why he agreed to sign it.
He said, “The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering. In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.”
“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” Brown wrote. “I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”
The law requires that patients are able to administer the life-ending drug themselves. Also, their decision must be submitted in written form, signed by two witnesses and approved by two doctors.
California becomes the fifth state to have a right-to-die law. New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington are the others.
Do you know what a DNR (do not resuscitate) order is? It is a medical document that alerts doctors and other medical and rescue personnel about whether you want them to do anything they can to revive you if your heart stops.
I have been in the local hospital a few times for various medical procedures and am used to the questions that the staff asks before admitting you. And I have a DNR (do not resuscitate) document that I keep on file there. If my heart stops and reviving me will negatively impact my quality of life, I want my loved ones to let me go.
Information for and against human DNRs is readily available on the web and in books; anyone you ask will have an opinion.
However, for pets it’s a different story. Last week I had to take my dog, Suzi, to the veterinary hospital for a minor medical procedure and was given several forms to sign. One of them caught me totally off guard. I was asked to sign either a DNR or an “administer CPR” form for her. I had never thought about a DNR in relation to my dog and didn’t know what to do. I had no idea about how easily a dog’s heart stops beating during surgery and how quickly it’s quality of life will be impacted after that stoppage.
The vet told me that asking for a pet DNR is becoming common practice for many animal hospitals but would give me no recommendation on which form to sign.
When I got home, I got on the web and tried to research a pet DNR to see what the recommended practice is. I could find very little helpful information. I called friends with pets and they had no idea what to do either.
Luckily, the procedure went smoothly and Suzi was fine. But what if there is a next time? What should I do then?
We at Die Smart would love to hear from you with your opinions on this subject. To write a comment or to find out more about end of life planning, including human DNRs, go to www.diesmart.com.
Basically, it says that you should make sure that the originals of all of your valuable papers are put somewhere safe and that a loved one knows where that safe place is. Otherwise, when you become incapacitated or after you die there may be a great deal of frustration and unnecessary work as your heir or estate representative tries to figure out what you’ve done and how to prove it.
Check out this article and also check out Die Smart for more information on what to do.
National, state and local organizations have joined together to ensure that all adults have the opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. Too often, someone’s wishes are not known and steps are taken during a critical medical situation that he or she would not have wanted.
Have you done any advance healthcare planning? Do you even know what your choices are? Have you prepared an advance healthcare directive and shared its contents with your loved ones?
The objectives of the National Healthcare Decisions Day are to provide information to the public and improve the ability of healthcare facilities and providers to offer guidance about advance healthcare planning to their patients.
Don’t force your family to make end of life decisions for you. Tell them what you want and confirm your choices in writing with a living will or other advance directive document. Make April 16th the day you have a discussion with your family, convey your wishes and sign the necessary paperwork.
In an effort to help DieSmart visitors become more educated about the significance of the proposed health care reform legislation, DieSmart will aggregate and post articles from a variety of sources for your review.