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THERE may be a time when you need a document to bash over the head of your doctor!
If a lawyer gets told a horrific crime, he cannot tell the police. Indeed it is his duty to keep it a secret. It is a duty of confidence.
It holds out against the police, lawful authorities, and the courts. The reason is that it is better to let 100 guilty people go free than to jail one innocent person.
It allows a person to get legal advice on the options available to him in a non-threatening and safe manner.
Such advice is completely privileged – it can not be revealed to anyone.
It is, to the lawyer, a sacred duty.
Doctors also have a duty and that is to preserve life – sometimes called the Hippocratic Oath. The great advances in medical science are wonderful but there is a flip side.
It is now possible for a patient who can’t talk, can’t read or write and is brain dead to be kept alive indefinitely on life-support systems and fed food through a tube.
You may be in possession of an Enduring Power of Attorney executed by Mum in the event of her losing mental competence.
You are the attorney for health reasons.
A doctor may still refuse.
This is where an Advanced Health Directive is invaluable. Mum will have signed this before her doctors and before her solicitor.
It is very detailed. Provisions like: “do not resuscitate me”. Or a clause like: “if I don’t have any quality of life, turn off the life support”.
It is a very tough decision.
But sometimes for a family member, you must make that awful decision.
It is tough love.

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