December 1, 2022

Doctors tend to ignore living wills

A small US study shows that nearly two-thirds of doctors would not follow instructions in living wills because of pressure from family members or because the prognosis for the patient was hopeful. Bioethics experts reacted to the article in the Archives of Internal Medicine with weary agreement. “There have been many studies over the course of the last decade which suggest that advance directives, especially living wills, are not particularly helpful, says Alan Meisel, of the University of Pittsburgh. And Howard Brody, of Michigan State University, says, “There are two obvious reasons why a doctor might not follow an advance directive. Reason one is that the doctor is a jerk and is practicing unethical medicine. The second reason is that [the] advance directive is unfollowable… People say things like ‘no heroics’. What does that mean? What’s heroic and isn’t heroic?”