Angry Doctor

Monday, May 29, 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Will

As expected, the letters to the ST Forum brought a few patients to my clinic, asking me to witness their Advanced Medical Directives (AMDs)...

Patient 1: Doctor, will you witness my Living Will for me?

angry doc: We'll see - what do you understand by the term Living Will?

Patient 1: Er... it's euthanasia, right?

angry doc: Sorry, wrong answer. Here's a brochure for your trouble. Better luck next time. Next!

Patient 2: Doctor, will you witness my Living Will for me?

angry doc: What do you know about the Living Will?

Patient 2: That if I sign it, when I am terminally ill and death is imminent, and I am unable to express my wishes, no extraordinary life-sustaining measures will be used to prolong my life.

angry doc: Model answer; but can you explain to me in layman terms what you just said?

Patient 2: Er... that when I am terminally ill and, er... and death is, er... imminent...

angry doc: Close, but no cigars. Next!

Patient 3: Doctor, will you witness my Living Will?

angry doc: That depends - what do you understand by the term Living Will?

Patient 3: That when I become a basket-case they will just pull the plug.

angry doc: Good. Sign here.



  • Hi Angry Doc, I do get the feeling that all of the patients who approached you talked like P1 & P2.
    P3 must be a manifestation of your wishful thinking :)

    By Anonymous scan man, At May 29, 2006 6:11 pm  

  • We have lots and lots of "living wills" deposited with us.

    I have never, in twenty years, known a patient mention their "living will" when they are terminally ill.

    And I certainly do not bring it up.


    By Blogger Dr John Crippen, At May 29, 2006 7:52 pm  

  • scan man,

    My cursory googling suggests that the Living Will is not yet well-defined in India. Any personal experience you can share with us?


    Our version of the Living Will is actually very limited compared to that you have in the UK.

    The default (and only) mode is 'no extraordinary life-sustaining measures please'. None of that 'fluids - yes, antibiotics - no' choices.

    But like I've said previously I've never seen any doctor ask to check if a patient has made one.

    By Blogger angry doc, At May 29, 2006 9:15 pm  

  • did any of you watch the show just like heaven.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 29, 2006 9:25 pm  

  • No.

    But I loved 'Jacob's Ladder'.

    By Blogger angry doc, At May 29, 2006 9:36 pm  

  • Haha! I have yet to get such a request. My patient pool is not made up of informed people. Most of the old folks don't even read the newspapers. Most didn't even know that there was a general election recently!

    I would want to ask those who request me to be their witness, "Why do you want a living will for?"

    It might give me a better answer as to the motivation for having such a living will and in the process allow me to see if the living will is actually the right thing for them or not, much less if they understand what it is.

    I mean so the guy says "If I am a basket case, they will pull the plug" but his reason for having the living will is "So that my wife can claim my life insurance earlier"'s a lot more insight that I get, don't you think?

    By Blogger Dr Oz bloke, At May 30, 2006 9:30 am  

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