Advance directives and living wills can turn a confusing and stressful situation into one of comfort and solace. An advance directive allows for a person’s preferences for how they would like to spend their last days to be honored. A legally binding document, the Attorney General in Maryland provides optional resources to assist residents who wish to provide directives to those who care for them, including their doctors and loved ones.
However, there are those whose advance directives were not followed by medical personnel. In these cases, family members feel that their loved ones suffered unnecessarily. As a result, these families have taken legal action by suing for medical malpractice.
Reasons to take legal steps
There are a few reasons families are seeking lawsuits. Some families are using the suit to shed light on the negligence. One spouse thought it important to do so, so that no one else would need to go through the same thing.
Another reason that families are bringing lawsuits is to pay off the medical costs that were incurred despite the directive saying to avoid medical care. In 2013, a Maryland family was able to be compensated for such costs through mediation, easing the family’s unnecessary financial burden.
Medical malpractice suits based upon violations of advance directives have been filed in several states, including Maryland, and are still pending with the potential to take many years to resolve. The malpractice suit is not clear cut due to the surrounding factors regarding the directives. In cases where the directives are lost, misunderstood, or purposely not adhered to due to doubt on behalf of the treating doctor, the courts may find that there was no negligent behavior.
Americans should be able to entrust their desire to live a long and healthy life in the hands of those who care for them. When advance directives are not adhered to, there can be pain caused everyone involved – but the opportunity to seek compensation through a lawsuit can provide much needed financial peace of mind.