Obstetrics & Gynecology>>>>>Ethical and Legal Issues in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Question 5#

Your 36-year-old patient is admitted to the hospital for induction of labor at 42 weeks’ gestation. She provides the hospital with her living will at the time of her admission. She signed the will 5 years ago, but she says to her nurse that she still wants to abide by the will. She has also signed an organ donor card allowing the harvesting of her organs in the event of her death.

Why is her living will not valid for this hospitalization?

a. In the event that she becomes delirious during labor, she will be unable to change her mind
b. She is pregnant
c. It has been too many years since the signing of the will
d. Signing an organ donor card automatically invalidates a living will
e. Her husband may decide later on that he disagrees with her living will

Correct Answer is B

Comment:

Living wills present the opportunity for patients to declare their wishes in advance of situations in which they become no longer competent to do so. They are revocable by the patient at any time, and are automatically invalid if the patient is pregnant, as another being is involved. Living wills can be set aside if a long period has elapsed since their drafting and the wishes are not known to be current. Also, there is the potential for conflict if the patient has signed a donor card and prolongation of life would be needed to carry out those wishes. Generally, such action would not be honored unless relatively expeditious arrangements were possible.