Once you create your living will with the assistance of an Iowa attorney with specialized knowledge, your attending medical physician or other healthcare professional should know of its existence. You are legally responsible for giving it to your doctor to notify him of your medical wishes if you become too ill to make them.
Your living will can contain specific instructions about which types of medical treatments are acceptable to you. You can specify life-saving measures that physicians may take to save your life during a terminal illness. You may also specify which types of medical treatments you do not want in case of a terminal illness or during the dying process. If you do not want physicians to use any life-prolonging or life-sustaining medical treatments, you must specify your wishes in your living will.
Under Iowa law, a medical illness is terminal if your attending doctor decides it is. An independent physician must substantiate your attending physicians diagnosis of the existence of a terminal condition. They must memorialize their decisions in writing for your medical records. A terminal illness is one that is medically incurable without other life-sustaining medical procedures. If a doctor cannot keep you alive without medical intervention, your illness is terminal. If your condition is irreversible and will lead to death without medical intervention, your condition is terminal.
Once you present your living will to your physician, your physician must act upon it and comply with your healthcare instructions if you become unable to make those decisions.
If you are mentally able to make other decisions that are contrary to your directives within your living will, you must be able to make them. For example, if you decided to instruct doctors to withhold life-saving medical treatments during a terminal illness, and you suddenly change your mind while you are dying, you must be able to change your mind if you are still mentally competent.