Worst-Case Scenario

By Charlotte Bruce Harvey '78 / May / June 2005
May 3rd, 2007

If only Terri Schiavo had seen Joshua Kreiss’s short film, her husband, her parents, and the nation might have been spared the prolonged public battle over her care.

Kreiss, who received his MD from Brown last spring, has created a fourteen-minute documentary video called Advance Medical Directives: Something to Think About. His message is simple: all of us should make clear exactly how we wish to be cared for should we become disabled, and we need to empower someone to make medical decisions for us in case we can’t make them ourselves.

Although all Americans have the right to specify their end-of-life wishes, most don’t, says Kreiss. The necessary legal documents are free and they don’t require a lawyer’s help, he stresses. Two options are available: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health-care proxy. Kreiss recommends the latter, in which people name a family member or friend to serve as a health-care agent, or proxy, in a crisis. While a living will stipulates whether a patient wants to be resuscitated or kept alive via feeding tubes or artificial respiration, a proxy has the flexibility to make medical decisions based on the patient’s condition. Kreiss urges all of us—young and old—to discuss our preferences openly with doctors and the person we want to make decisions for us. More information is at appleadayfilms.com.

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
May / June 2005