Hastings Law Journal


Personal autonomy and the ability to direct one's health care treatment are important considerations for this nation's elderly population. In this Article, Professor Alexander reviews the history of health care directives in the United States. In particular, he considers the present state of natural death act directives to physicians, durable powers for health care, and the state of law in their absence, pointing out a number of problems presented by each type of health care directive. Professor Alexander places special emphasis on the states' regulation of decisions about removal of life support for elderly patients. He then proposes a new law that would incorporate features of physician directives, durable powers, and laws applicable in their absence in order to clarify and enhance the ability of an elderly individual to make health care decisions while competent that determine treatment when and if the individual becomes incompetent.

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