A living will in Nevada directs whether you want to withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment. Having a Living Will means that you decide what your quality of life will be and avoids others, including possibly a court, from making this decision for you. This is not the same as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions. That Power of Attorney governs other aspects of healthcare, not just lifesaving treatment. For information about Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcase, click here for the article.
You should give copies of your Living Will to your loved ones and keep a copy in your wallet. You can also file your Living Will with the Nevada Secretary of State in a Living Will Lockbox. For more information, click here: http://nvsos.gov/sos/online-services/living-will-lockbox/file-with-living-will-lockbox.
If you do NOT have a Living Will, NRS 449.626 governs when a physician can withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment and who can give him authority.
NRS 449.626 states:
1. If written consent to the withholding or withdrawal of the treatment, attested by two witnesses, is given to the attending physician, the attending physician may withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a patient who:
(a) Has been determined by the attending physician to be in a terminal condition and no longer able to make decisions regarding administration of life-sustaining treatment; and
(b) Has no effective declaration.
2. The authority to consent or to withhold consent under subsection 1 may be exercised by the following persons, in order of priority:
(a) The spouse of the patient;
(b) An adult child of the patient or, if there is more than one adult child, a majority of the adult children who are reasonably available for consultation;
(c) The parents of the patient;
(d) An adult sibling of the patient or, if there is more than one adult sibling, a majority of the adult siblings who are reasonably available for consultation; or
(e) The nearest other adult relative of the patient by blood or adoption who is reasonably available for consultation.
3. If a class entitled to decide whether to consent is not reasonably available for consultation and competent to decide, or declines to decide, the next class is authorized to decide, but an equal division in a class does not authorize the next class to decide.
4. A decision to grant or withhold consent must be made in good faith. A consent is not valid if it conflicts with the expressed intention of the patient.
5. A decision of the attending physician acting in good faith that a consent is valid or invalid is conclusive.
6. Life-sustaining treatment must not be withheld or withdrawn pursuant to this section from a patient known to the attending physician to be pregnant so long as it is probable that the fetus will develop to the point of live birth with continued application of life-sustaining treatment.
The more famous and sad case involving lack of a Living Will is the case of Terry Schiavo. When Ms. Schiavo was just 26 years old, she suffered a heart attack and was left comatose. After two-and-a half months, she was diagnosed with a persistent vegetative state. For two years, doctors attempted therapy without success of improvement. Ms. Schiavo’s husband then petitioned a Florida court to have her feeding tube removed. Her husband claimed she would not want to live such a state.
Ms. Schaivo’s parents opposed the petition and a years-long battle ensued. Eventually, her feeding tube was removed and she died a few days later. Countless articles have been written about Ms. Schaivo’s case. For more discussion, you can view the following links.