Living Wills are not yet legally binding in Scotland, however a recent case in England shows that medical staff are putting greater emphasis on respecting the wishes of patients.
A Living Will, also known as an Advance Directive, is a document that allows you to declare your views on receiving life-prolonging medical treatment should you become seriously ill and are no longer able to make decisions on your own health care. A Living Will can set out your wishes in general terms or it can detail your prospective refusal of any specific procedures or treatments that are aimed at prolonging your life. Such treatments could include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, artificial ventilation, invasive surgery or blood transfusion.
In the recent case of Brenda Grant, from Warwickshire, medical staff had misplaced her Living Will which resulted in her receiving life-prolonging treatment for almost two years following a stroke, contrary to her written wishes. Unfortunately, Mrs Grant had not made her family aware of her wishes or the existence of the Living Will and it was only once her GP discovered the document within her medical notes that the medical treatment was stopped. In an out-of-court settlement, the George Eliot Hospital Trust admitted liability and agreed to pay £45,000 in damages to Mrs Grant’s family.
Creating a Living Will allows you to formally express your wishes so that they may be given effect when you are no longer able to make decisions regarding your health or welfare. The aim of the medical profession has historically been to prolong life but as the number of suffers of age related conditions grow, it is essential that consideration is also given to the views of the patient. Many of us will now have experienced family members who have suffered from the indignity of their degradation and would not wish to have the same experience. The hospital trust’s admission that they acted improperly in not ensuring that their patient’s wishes were followed shows that the medical profession understand that there is now a balance to be found.
If you create a Living Will, we always recommend that you let your family and friends know that you have done so to ensure that it is not mislaid within your medical notes. We would also provide you with a copy of the Living Will for your personal papers and your doctor with a copy for their file. For more information on Living Wills please contact Blackadders.
The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.
Blackadders takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the content of this site is accurate and up to date. The site is not, however, intended as a substitute for seeking legal or other professional advice but rather as an informative guide to the services provided by Blackadders and topical legal developments. Site visitors should always seek advice tailored to their specific situation. Consequently, Blackadders accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by anyone acting or failing to act on the basis of information contained on this site. Downloading of material contained on this site is at the user’s own risk and all necessary virus checks must first be carried out by the user. Blackadders is not responsible for the material found on any web sites linked to this one and links to this site may only be made with Blackadders prior consent.
Blackadders owns the copyright in this blog and all material contained on it. The material on this site may be downloaded for personal use only and must not be altered. Otherwise, Blackadders’ written consent is required before any material on this site is reproduced, copied or transmitted in any way.
Information passed to us via this site is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties except if authorised by you or required by law.
© Blackadders LLP 2020
Members of the Law Society of Scotland.
Blackadders Solicitors is a trading name of Blackadders LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in Scotland No SO301600 whose registered office is 30 & 34 Reform Street, Dundee, DD1 1RJ. Reference to a ‘partner’ is to a member of Blackadders LLP.