Report No. 196
Living will under Death with Dignity Act
The Death with Dignity Act authorizes competent adults to express their wishes regarding the use or withholding of life-sustaining procedures, including artificial nutrition and hydration, in the event they are incapacitated or otherwise unable to express their desires. The Act creates a statutory form for this purpose titled "Declaration of a Desire for Natural Death'. This document is commonly referred as a living will. (see App. 1 of the Act)
(1) Health Care Power of Attorney:
Sections within South Caroline Probate Code authorizes competent adults to designate another person to make decisions on their behalf about their medical care in the event they become incapacitated. The Code creates a statutory form for this purpose entitled 'Health Care Power of Attorney'. The Department has developed a form entitled 'Statement of Desires Regarding Mental Health Treatment and Care' for use as an addendum to the statutory 'Health Care Power of Attorney' form (App 2, 3)
(2) A "Do not Resuscitate Order" is a written physician's order not to begin the otherwise automatic initiation of Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, in the event the patient suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest. It is appropriate in situations involving a patient with a terminal condition or a patient in a state of permanent unconsciousness, and is generally entered with the consent of the patient or the patient's substitute decision maker, or in circumstances where resuscitative efforts are inappropriate or medically futile.
Although the entry of a 'Do Not Resuscitate Order' involves advance planning for the withholding of a specific health-care procedures, and frequently involves consultation with the patient, it is not considered an Advance Directive for purposes of the Patient Self Determination Act or this Directive. It is only one means of effecting a patient's Advance Directive for the withholding of life sustaining procedures when the conditions set forth in the Advance Directive are met.