A Halachic Medical Directive is a very important protection for every Jewish patient. It indicates that you want to receive medical care according to halachah. By signing this document, you have chosen a particular agent and a particular Rabbi to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so; for example, if you were to become unconscious. This will protect you from a situation where the medical staff, not knowing the halachah, might mistakenly assume that you don’t want further medical care. It protects your family from repeated pressure from the medical staff to terminate medical care. Many patients’ lives have been saved by these documents.
Signing the document ahead of time is not enough. It is important to be prepared to remind your medical team to read this document and to tell them that you still agree with what you wrote, that you really care about making your medical decisions with the help of your health care agent and your Rabbi.
They might otherwise think that you have changed your mind.
The medical team may not be accustomed to patients who want to make their decisions carefully and objectively with the help of an expert. They may be accustomed to patients who make their medical decisions according to how they feel at the moment. Because of this, it makes sense to the medical team to ask the patient over and over again, do you still want medical care in case you get sicker? Unfortunately, you may have to keep repeating that you want to stick to the previous decision that you have written in your Halachic Medical Directive.
Unfortunately, there are situations where it may not be clear that they are asking you for a medical decision.
The medical team might ask, for example, if you would prefer not to suffer longer.You might answer, innocently, that of course you would prefer not to suffer. Unfortunately, they may interpret this answer as a medical decision not to be offered care at some future time
They may also ask questions that sound like a friendly conversation, like asking you what activities you enjoy. If you answer by naming some of your favorite things to do, unfortunately, they may interpret this as an official mandate to discontinue your medical care if they think your condition has declined to the point where you can no longer do these particular activities.
The various individuals on your medical team need to see that you are not going to change your mind. They need to be convinced that you really want to follow Jewish law. If you personally tell them how important it is to you, they will have to respect your decision.
Be prepared, click here to sign your Halachic Medical Directive.