Florida Living Will Declaration

Editors NoteOver the course of several meetings KWVA meetings this year, Ray Anderson has brought to our attention a major concern associate with the existing Florida Living Will Declaration and Health Care Surrogate form.  Many of you have probably filed one of these documents, with your doctor and designated caregiver providing directions on your expected care if you are unable to speak for yourself.  Ray has had a very unfortunate problem using the standard living will form in associated with the treatment of his son.  Attached to this page is a revised living will form that is designed to eliminate the problems that Raymond faced with the treatment provided his son.  Along with the revised forms is a personal explanation from Ray Anderson indicating the problems he encountered, the solution to this dilemma, and how using this revised form is will help eliminate this potential problem.

First of all: since I am not a attorney nor medical adviser, you should consult a professional before signing any document.
Florida and most states have laws governing the treatment of people entering their hospitals. By law they are required to provide any and every kind of treatment necessary to save a life or prolong the inevitable. The purpose of a living will is to offer a choice, or limit to such actions.  However, to accomplish this, requires submitting several documents. The attached "FLORIDA LIVING WILL DECLARATION AND HEALTH CARE SURROGATE" forms provide you the documentation, you need, to take that action.

The "DO NOT RESUSITATE- (DNR)"  form(s) are also used to stop the intended treatment procedures, should you choose. The (D.N.R) forms must be signed and witnessed by your doctor.

Some of you may have these forms, you should check and see if they are the original forms or the later revised format.  If you read this living will you will see there are FOUR reasons to terminate ones life and not three. These later revised forms include a fourth reason to terminate, which is the request NOT to be feed through a feeding tube.

All that said: I would like to give you an example, which by the way, happened to our family this past August.

My son, Ray, a First Gulf War Veteran, had been afflicted with a lung disorder and eventually had a lung transplant (5 years ago). As a disabled veteran there were little or no expenses. In July of last year, his other lung failed and he was rushed to a hospital (not the VA) in an ambulance. This problem happened on a weekend. The emergency room doctor said it was too serious for the ER and he would have to go "upstairs" to the intensive care unit.  In the middle of all this confusion his wife was asked "do you want us to to what we can" and of course she said "yes".  What just happened, was he was placed directly into the "LIFE SUPPORT UNIT."

With the older living will forms you're "in" and can't get "out".  After that comes the shock of reality. After the installation of  the breathing tubes, the ventilator and additional tubes everywhere, you finally have the conversations with the doctors about the possibility of  perhaps  "pulling the plug."  However, you are told you can't, that is not an option.  It has now become a legal problem.

With the help of an attorney we constantly asked the doctors to consider "hospice" or any other method. Fourteen days later the hospital finally concede and send him to hospice care. The crossroads was they could no longer use the feeding tubes and were going to have to feed him through the throat, which required surgery.  The new forms include the forth choice of refusing to be feed through the tubes. 

He was transported to hospice, ventilator and tubes included, where his life was terminated in 57 minutes.

There were several mistakes made, first of all, one should choose a surrogate, that is NOT in love with you and can assess the condition and make rational decisions.  Secondly, when you are asked do you want us to do "what we can?", that is a decision point. The actions associated with that decision should be carefully considered. In my sons case he ended up after two weeks of agony exactly in the same place he was when he arrived in the emergency room.

I hope this helps you, and I hope you never have to use it,

Ray Anderson