A very real concern amongst those living in the 21st century is that modern medical technology has given doctors a God-like ability to prolong life. Sadly, the quality of this life can be unacceptable due to mental or physical incapacitation. The Living Will or Advance Directive is a document which addresses these concerns. It is written by a person while mentally competent, and it expresses directions and personal preferences for treatment in the event of incapacitation. It is intended to give patients some measure of control over future medical treatment should they be unable to express treatment preferences at the time. This book is a detailed exploration of the Living Will, emphasising the importance of a consultative process with one's doctor in drawing it up and thereafter regularly monitoring it. The numerous benefits of the Living Will are highlighted and readers are advised about potential pitfalls – and how to guard against them.
Harriet Etheredge studied at Rhodes University and the University of the Witwatersrand where she obtained her Master of Science in Medicine. Her main fields of interest are the ethics of organ donation and end-of-life issues. Harriet currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa, and lectures at the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics.