End of Life Decisions

Discussions of end of life issues are difficult. These talks can, however, help patients make sure that they will be treated as they wish. Rhode Islanders have the right to control decisions related to their medical care and to authorize others to make medical decisions for them if they become unable to do so themselves. There are several ways you can make your wishes depending on your health condition. All of these tools are voluntary and can be modified by you upon your request. People considering end of life issues may want to consult with their doctor to understand the medical procedures, their side effects, benefits, and limitations; a lawyer to understand the legal issues; and their loved ones for support.

What you may do to ensure that your decisions are followed

Draft a Living Will

The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act allows individuals to instruct their physicians to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal condition. If you wish to establish a Living Will, you may use the form in the statute or you may create your own form if it meets the requirements of the Act. more

Establish a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Rhode Island law allows an individual to authorize another person to make decisions affecting their healthcare if they become unable to do so. You do not have to have a terminal condition to activate the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. If you wish to name an agent for these purposes, you must use the statutory form. more

Set Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment

If you have a terminal illness, your doctor can help you decide what level of medical intervention you would like. Your doctor can take your wishes and put them into Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment that they will become part of your medical files. If you transfer to another medical facility your wishes will be brought with you.

Consider Organ Donation

The Office of State Medical Examiners supports the donation of organs and tissue. Organ donation can help families through the grieving process and give others a second chance at life. more