Advanced Health Directives
First introduced in Queensland on the 1st June 1998, these enable you to provide for the type of health care that is provided to you (or that is not provided to you) if you lose the capacity to communicate this to persons giving you care.
An example of this is the withdrawal of life support machines. However, you cannot use an Advance Health Directive as a form of euthanasia.
An Advance Health Directive only comes into effect after you have lost your decision-making capacity. The health care provider is not obliged to follow a direction contained in the advanced health directive if its terms are uncertain, contrary to good medical practice or where circumstances have changed so that the terms of the direction are no longer appropriate.
The type of directions that can be made are the withdrawal of life sustaining measures or the non-administration of treatment which only serve to prolong the dying process.
A direction to withhold or withdraw a life sustaining measure cannot operate unless the person:
– has a terminal illness or condition that is incurable or irreversible and as a result of which the person may reasonably be expected to die within one year;
– is in a persistent vegetative state;
– is permanently unconscious (in a coma);
– has an illness or injury of such severity that there is no reasonable prospect of recovery to the extent that life can be sustained without the continued application of life sustaining measures.
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