An Advance Medical Directive (AMD), also commonly known as a Living Will, is a written statement of your wishes to refuse certain treatments in a specific situation.
In Scotland, any adult with capacity can refuse medical treatment. There may, however, come a time when you are unable to communicate your wishes or you no longer have the ability to make a decision regarding your treatment. An AMD is a way of preserving your right to make treatment decisions even when capacity has been lost.
Any adult over the age of 16 who has mental capacity can make an AMD. Having mental capacity means that you are able to understand the information relating to the decision you are making, retain the information for long enough to make the decision, weigh up the information involved in making the decision and communicate your decision in any way to your doctor or others caring for you.
Many believe there are benefits to making an AMD. You may feel more in control of your circumstances, future care or indeed the end of your life. You can avoid taxing treatment which may not always be helpful to you. Your family and healthcare team will know what you want and can respect your wishes thus making treatment decisions easier for your family. It can also help avoid disagreements about your care and treatment within your family or healthcare team.
Friends, family and Welfare Attorneys can use AMDs as evidence of your wishes to ensure that you are not being kept alive in a situation that you have decided would be intolerable for you. You can use an AMD to refuse any treatment, including life-sustaining treatment such as resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration or breathing machines. An AMD cannot be used to ask for your life to be ended.
In Scotland an AMD is highly likely to be legally binding if it is validly signed and witnessed with a solicitor’s certification that you understand the document and you have not been influenced by another person when writing your AMD. The treatment you have chosen to refuse in your ADM also must apply to your specific medical circumstances at the time of writing the directive.
Remember to let your healthcare professionals, next of kin, family, friends and Welfare Attorney ( if you have one) know you have made an AMD. Also it is important to review your AMD regularly so you can be sure it is up to date and reflects your current wishes.
If you do not have an Advance Medical Directive nor have appointed a Welfare Attorney doctors will make the final decisions regarding your care.
If you would like to discuss an AMD please get in touch with me on 0141 552 3422 or by email email@example.com