You have sought effective legal advice and created a valid and legally binding living will with the assistance of your attorney. Your living will contains instructions to your attending physician that in case you become terminally ill, your wishes are to decline life-sustaining medical procedures.
In Iowa, a life-sustaining medical procedure is one that requires medical intervention to prolong the process of dying while terminally ill or to restore your necessary bodily functions or vital signs. Without medical intervention, you will surely die. Examples of life-sustaining procedures include medically resuscitating equipment that uses artificial or mechanical means to restore your vital functions. In 1992, the Iowa legislature included feeding tubes designed to provide your body with necessary nutrition and hydration to keep you alive. 10 years later, the Iowa legislature what procedures are defined as resuscitation procedures. These include using any medical means to sustain, restore, or supply your vital functions. They include defibrillation, emergency chest compressions and intubation to deliver hydration and nutrition. The legislature also included cardiac restoration drugs intended to resuscitate you during cardiac arrest.
However, the term life-sustaining does not include medical procedures that are not delivered to resuscitate your vital signs but merely delivered to alleviate your pain or provide you with comfort during a physically painful condition.
If you do not have a living will or advance directive, then under Iowa law, your doctor can make medical decisions before at least one other witness, in participation with certain individuals. The individuals who can participate in decisions regarding medical treatment during a terminal illness include an individual with a power of attorney to make healthcare decisions, a guardian appointed by court, your spouse, your adult children, your parents or adult siblings. Iowa law follows an order of precedence giving respective priority to these individuals. As such, you should understand the statutory order of precedence by contacting our office or another Iowa attorney specializing in this area of law.
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