How A Living Will Works
In agreement with the conditions of an Advanced Directive, life-support measures may be withdrawn or withheld if the patient: is permanently comatose or in a terminal state, as diagnosed by an attending physician and verified by another qualified doctor; or has a grave and irreversible disease, of which the likely associated risks of the treatment to be withdrawn/withheld may be rationally estimated to prevail over the probable benefits.
With regard to the medical intervention, a person may refuse to receive any if the treatment: is experimental and not yet proven to be effective; is likely to delay an imminent death; or is likely to be unsuccessful in extending life. In addition, the attending physician is permitted by law to give out a "Do-Not-Resuscitate" (DNR) order in conjunction with a patient's living will.
The law also compels the doctor to make confirmatory inquiry with regard to the existence of a living will. In other words, he or she is required to initiate the query and to make a note of it in the patient's medical records. Health care institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes and hospices are also commanded by law to adopt certain policies regarding the application of advance directives. It is also their responsibility to provide suitable informational materials about the subject.
The New Jersey law expressly declares that living wills should not be construed to impair the responsibilities of health care providers to provide for the comfort and care of the patient and to relieve pain or suffering, in line with the time-honored nursing and medical standards.
New Jersey living wills are therefore valuable tools in ensuring that a person actually gets his wishes granted – with regard to medical treatment.
Also, such legal documents saves the immediate families and health care institution from the burden of deciding for incapacitated patients.