Living Wills – General – Washington
ALL REFERENCES ARE TO THE REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTON
HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE
General Information (RCW §70.122.020):
A health care “directive” is a written document voluntarily executed by the declarant generally consistent with statutory guidelines.
“Life sustaining treatment” is any medical or surgical intervention that uses mechanical or other artificial means, including artificially provided nutrition and hydration, to sustain, restore, or replace a vital function, which, when applied to a qualified patient, would serve only to prolong the process of dying. “Life sustaining treatment” does not include the administration of medication or the performance of any medical or surgical intervention deemed necessary solely to alleviate pain.
A “permanent unconscious condition” is an incurable and irreversible condition in which the patient is medically assessed within reasonable medical judgment as having no reasonable probability of recovery from an irreversible coma or a persistent vegetative state.
A “qualified patient” is an adult person who is a patient diagnosed in writing to have a terminal condition by the patient’s attending physician who has personally examined the patient or a patient who is diagnosed in writing to be in a permanent unconscious condition in accordance with accepted medical standards by two physicians, one of whom is the patient’s attending physician, and both of whom have personally examined the patient.
A “terminal condition” is an incurable and irreversible condition caused by injury, disease, or illness, that, within reasonable medical judgment, will cause death within a reasonable period of time in accordance with accepted medical standards, and where the application of life sustaining treatment serves only to prolong the process of dying.
The Directive (RCW §70.122.030)
An adult person may execute a directive directing the withholding or withdrawal of life sustaining treatment in a terminal condition or permanent unconscious condition. The directive must be signed by the declarant in the presence of two witnesses not related to the declarant by blood or marriage and who would not be entitled to any portion of the estate of the declarant upon declarant’s death under any will of the declarant or codicil thereto, or, at the time of the directive, by operation of law. A witness to a directive may not be the attending physician, an employee of the attending physician or a health facility in which the declarant is a patient, or any person who has a claim against any portion of the estate of the declarant.
The directive or a copy of the directive must be made part of the patient’s medical records retained by the attending physician.
Form (RCW §70.122.030)
The directive may be in the form provided by statute and may include additional instruction not provided for by statute.
Revocation (RCW §70.122.040)
A directive may be revoked at any time by the declarant without regard to declarant’s mental state or competency, and may be revoked by any of the following methods:
By being canceled, defaced, obliterated, burned, torn, or otherwise destroyed by the declarant or by some person in declarant’s presence and by declarant’s direction;
By a written revocation of the declarant expressing declarant’s intent to revoke, signed, and dated by the declarant (this revocation becomes effective upon communication to the attending physician by the declarant or by a person acting on behalf of the declarant. The attending physician shall record in the patient’s medical record the time and date when said physician received notification of the written revocation); or
By a verbal expression by the declarant of declarant’s intent to revoke the directive (this revocation becomes effective only upon communication to the attending physician by the declarant or by a person acting on behalf of the declarant. The attending physician shall record in the patient’s medical record the time, date, and place of the revocation and the time, date, and place, if different, of when said physician received notification of the revocation).
If a declarant becomes comatose or is rendered incapable of communicating with the attending physician, the directive remains in effect for the duration of the comatose condition or until such time as the declarant’s condition renders declarant able to communicate with the attending physician.
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