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Death/Dying

Advance Directives

The WSMA supports assurance that the specific wishes of the individual patient as specified in his/her Advance Directive be strictly honored in or out of the hospital setting. (Res A-4, A-93; Res A 5, A-06) (Reaffirmed A-19)

The WSMA reiterates its endorsements of the patient's – or the patient's designated or court appointed representative's – prerogative of formulating advance directives that ought to be properly honored regardless of location. (Res C-6, A-95; Res A 5, A-06) (Reaffirmed A-19)

The WSMA encourages physicians to counsel all patients to take advantage of advance directives. (EC Rpt G, A-96) (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA encourages its members to assure that they and their families, friends, and patients have all explored and discussed the options available with regard to Advance Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney, have considered discussing same with their family members and have executed appropriately signed forms in all instances where they have concluded such would be of value to them. (Res A-1, A-02) (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA strongly believes the social commitment of the physician is to prolong life and relieve suffering. For humane reasons, with informed consent, a physician may do what is medically necessary to alleviate severe pain, or cease or omit treatment, including nutrition and hydration by other than normal natural methods, to let a terminally ill patient die, but he/she should not intentionally cause death. (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA affirms that where a terminally ill patient's coma is beyond doubt irreversible and there are adequate safeguards to confirm the accuracy of the diagnosis, all means of life support may be discontinued. (Reaffirmed A-17)

The WSMA encourages physicians, if arriving at decisions involving the withholding or withdrawing of invasive or extraordinary means, to have informed involvement of the patient or the patient's family or guardian. (Res 28, A-91; JC 2.14-87; Res 3, B-90; CHS Rpt H, '83) (Reaffirmed A-17)


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Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:

EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services

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