COVID-19 & Your Advanced Directives

By Samantha Schaum, J.D.

The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has raised new healthcare concerns that did not previously exist. As of November 16, 2020, the United States has recorded more than 11 million new cases of the virus, and outbreaks continue to rise throughout the country. In addition to drafting a Living Will, some people are executing a Supplemental Document to address what might happen if they fall ill to this disease. 

The Supplement to the Living Will Due to Covid-19 can express your specific wishes in the event that you are diagnosed with COVID-19, which may be different than your wishes under the Living Will. 

For example, a Living Will is often used to protect a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment and to withhold life-sustaining measures. Because some COVID-19 patients have been successfully treated using intubation, artificial ventilation, and other medical aids, you may not want to withhold these life-sustaining treatments if you are diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition, you may want to direct your Surrogate to consent to any vaccine created to treat the virus. 

A Supplement to your Living Will specifically addressing your medical wishes in the event you are diagnosed with COVID-19 can make these distinctions clear to your loved ones and health care professionals. Here is an example of such a document: