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Protecting me from my directive: ensuring appropriate safeguards for advance directives in dementia

Auckland, Cressida ORCID: 0000-0002-4376-0013 (2018) Protecting me from my directive: ensuring appropriate safeguards for advance directives in dementia. Medical Law Review, 26 (1). 73 - 97. ISSN 0967-0742

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Identification Number: 10.1093/medlaw/fwx037


With one in six people over 80 now suffering from dementia, advance directives provide an important means of empowerment. Upholding directives in the context of dementia, however, raises extra challenges, given the potential for the directive to conflict with an assessment of what is in the person's current best interests. Given the profound harm that tying a person with dementia to their previous wishes can do, it is essential that we have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that we only uphold such directives where we can be sure they are truly autonomous and are intended to apply to the situation at hand-safeguards which are at present, severely lacking. This article will consider various mechanisms by which safeguards can be built into the legal regime to ensure that the original decision is autonomous, including making it mandatory for the person to undergo a consultation with a healthcare professional, which would involve a contemporaneous capacity assessment. Clinicians must also be confident that the directive applies to the situation at hand. Introducing formalities, including a standardised (though not mandatory) proforma, may help to enhance specificity about when the directive is triggered, and to what treatments it relates, to enable clinicians to better assess the directive's applicability. A national registry for advance directives might also be beneficial. It will be argued that health care professionals will have to play a much greater role in the drafting and registering of advance directives, if we are to feel comfortable in upholding them.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2019 08:36
Last Modified: 23 May 2024 03:00

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