The law defines who are "qualified patients" eligible to have their decision making document take control of a medical situation. A patient qualifies if the attending physician diagnoses the patient as having a terminal condition, having a living will or life prolonging declaration, and being of sound mind at the time of execution of the declaration. A person who is pregnant is not qualified during the term of the pregnancy.
The law defines "terminal condition" as:
1) a condition caused by injury, disease, or illness;
2) which to a reasonable degree of medical certainty there will be no recovery; and
3) death will occur from the terminal condition within a short period of time without the provision of life prolonging procedures.
The law defines a "life prolonging procedure" as: 1) any medical procedure, treatment, or intervention; 2) that uses mechanical or other artificial means to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital function; 3) serves to prolong the dying process.
Minimum qualifications to execute a Living Will or Life Prolonging Procedures Will:
1) Any person who is of sound mind, and
2) is eighteen years of age may execute a Living Will or Life Prolonging Procedures Will.
In addition the declaration of the Living Will must:
1) Be voluntary,
2) In writing,
3) Be signed by the person making the declaration (or another person in the declarant's presence and at the declarant's express direction),
4) Be dated,
5) Be signed in front of two or more competent witnesses who are at least 18 years of age.
Other restrictions are listed for the witness to the Living Will or Life Prolonging Procedures Will in Section 8 of the statute.
A Living Will or Life Prolonging Procedures Will can be revoked by the declarant after it is issued. Any of the following methods may be used:
1) A signed and dated written statement;
2) The destruction or cancellation of the Declaration by the declarant of by another person so instructed by the declarant, in the declarant's presence; or
3) An oral expression of an intent to revoke the declaration.
A revocation is effective when communicated to the attending physician.
A person can agree to share the authority to make medical decisions with another person. That person is called a Health Care Representative in Indiana (some states call the person a medical Power of Attorney). The HCR is authorized to act on behalf of the principal when the principal is unable to make medical decisions due to illness, injury or disease.
The HCR provides guidance and instruction to the physician in the principal's treatment.
When a person has been declared terminal, yet is not hospitalized, the person can choose a Do Not Resusciate status, if the treating physician agrees. The DNR Order is only valid if countersigned by the physician, and so great care is to be taken in the selection and use of this document. An indepth conversation should be held with your physician and lawyer before the use of the Out of Hosptial Do Not Resuscitate Order.