HM Insights

Why your social media views on end of life medical treatment could matter, Living Wills are better

The British Medical Association and The Royal College of Physicians has recently published guidance aimed at family and friends of loved ones who are unable to express their wishes regarding the decision to provide clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) in the context of end of life care.

The guidance, which concerns the position in England and Wales, includes looking at comments made by the person concerned in an email or on social media in relation to a similar medical condition where they have not formally recorded their wishes "as this type of information can be really helpful for doctors to assess whether the person had actually thought about the issue or was making a ‘throwaway remark’ that was not intended to be acted upon."

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The benefits of a Living Will

A Living Will (also known as an 'Advance Medical Directive' or 'Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment' allows a person to record their views and wishes on any medical treatment that they do not want to receive in the future,) in case they later lack capacity and cannot communicate a decision themselves. In England and Wales, if this meets certain requirements, it is legally binding and doctors must follow it without resorting to any comments made on social media or in email correspondence.

In Scotland, Living Wills are not legally binding but they are persuasive. A Living Will is a simple and useful means of continuing a right to express your wishes on refusing medical treatment, of potentially alleviating a heavy burden on family and friends and, ultimately, providing some peace of mind.

Get in touch

If you have any questions regarding Living Wills or would like to put a Living Will in place please get in touch with our Private Client team.