Sometimes individuals are unable to provide consent or state their preferences when they need immediate medical attention the most. This is particularly true of patients with dementia, brain injuries, or other conditions that make communication with medical staff difficult or impossible.
That is why states allow people to draft living wills (also called "health care directives"), legally binding documents that outline an individual's health care preferences and end-of-life wishes. For instance, a living will may indicate that the patient does not want to be kept alive through artificial respiration or breathing tubes, or perhaps the patient wants to donate his or her body to research after death.
Rhode Island Living Will Laws at a Glance
The main provisions of Rhode Island's living will law are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Living Wills Basics section for more articles.
|Code Section||23-4.11-1, et seq. Rights of Terminally Ill Act|
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts||Any medical procedure or intervention serving only to prolong the dying process. Does not include anything necessary to alleviate pain or provide comfort and care; must wear DNR bracelet in order to effectuate "do not resuscitate" order.|
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will||(1) 18 yrs.; (2) signed; (3) in presence of 2 witnesses (suggested form §23-4.11-3(a)); (4) given no force or effect as long as live birth is probable for pregnant patient; neither witness related to declarant.|
|Revocation of Living Will||Revocable at any time in any manner by which declarant is able to communicate the intent to revoke without regard to physical or mental condition. Only effective upon communication to physician by declarant or one witnessing the revocation|
|Validity from State-to-State||Declaration executed in another state in compliance with the laws of that state is valid.|
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney||Physician shall make necessary arrangements to effect a transfer|
|Immunity for Attending Physician||No civil, criminal, or professional liability for acting in accordance with requirements of the statute and in accordance with reasonable medical standards|
Note: State laws are subject to change, usually through the enactment of new legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions or other means. You should contact a Rhode Island health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Rhode Island Living Will Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.