Q: My father has a Living Will that says do not resuscitate but Dr. Says it is up to the oldest child, my sibling. Who is correct?
A: A valid legal living will with an appointed and designated agent/surrogate who is ready and willing to act, should be honored by a hospital or medical provider. Your father’s Living Will needs to be in full compliance with Pennsylvania law. If you are the designated agent or surrogate on such a legal Living Will, the end of life decision should be made by you as directed in the Living Will, regardless of what the doctor or hospital says. I have had certain hospitals that inform next of kin that they are not obligated to honor a Living Will, and I really don’t understand it. The Living Will I use in my practice is taken directly out of the Pennsylvania Probate, Estate and Fiduciary statute. It seems that some medical providers will only honor a Living Will or DNR code document drafted or endorsed by their lawyer, for whatever reason. You should have a meeting with the doctor or the social worker, tell them your position and ask them to explain their reason. If there is no resolution, change doctors. If that is not possible, hire a lawyer to contact the doctor or staff. If there is still no resolution, the lawyer can file a petition in which it is requested that the doctor or hospital appear in court and tell the judge why they do not conform to Pennsylvania law.