The first instinct for doctors and other health care workers, is to do everything possible to save the lives of their patients. That can be in conflict with the wishes of those patients, which is leading to lawsuits.

Millions of Americans have completed advanced medical directives such as health care powers of attorney and living wills. More and more people are taking advantage of their legal options to give directives to health care professionals about what treatments they wish to receive and what should be done to preserve their lives.

While this has empowered millions to take charge of their own end of life care, it has not been without conflict as The New York Times reports in “The Patients Were Saved, That’s Why the Families Are Suing.”

The problems start when the patients’ advanced directives are not followed.

Health care workers, who are either unaware of the directives or uncertain about them, have been known to resuscitate patients who do not wish to be, for example. This had led some families to sue for saving the lives of their sick relatives, which is a new position for doctors to be in. Most suits normally come when they fail to save patients.

It leaves many doctors bewildered, since the Hippocratic Oath does not suggest that saving a patient’s life is ever inappropriate.

Americans deserve to have their advanced medical directives respected and followed. Much thought and consideration goes into the decisions people make about their end of life care.

This is an issue that requires further education and making sure that health care workers are made aware of their patients’ advanced directives, so they can be sure to follow those directives.

Reference: New York Times (April 10, 2017) “The Patients Were Saved, That’s Why the Families Are Suing.”