Edward Kirwin wrote out his living will in 1997. In it he specified that , should he ever become completely dependent on medical feeding to keep him alive, he would want to have the feeding withdrawn. In 2001, Kirwin was in a terrible automobile accident that left him virtually paralyzed. As a result, Kirwin was being maintained on artificial feeding. Though lucid for about three months in this condition, he eventually slipped into a coma. His wife then requested the removal of his feeding tubes according to his advance directive. Upon examining Kirwin’s advance directive, the attending physician noted that it had last been reviewed and dated in 1999, two years before the accident. He was therefore wary about whether the patient would still have wanted the removal of medical feeding. Furthermore, when Kirwin’s daughter and son, both in their thirties, arrived from Florida, they made it quite cleaer to the physician that their father was to be kept alive at all costs. When the physician referred to their father’s living will, the son and daughter claimed that the request was not really what he would have wanted.
1. How relevant is the reviewing and dating of the advance directive?
2. Should the son and daughter have a say in healthcare decisions involving their father?
3. Under what circumstances would you feel that the physician has no duty to honor Kirwin’s living will?