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Posted on November 22, 2018 at 4:00 AM

As with all other legal instruments, there are periodically cases concerning advance directives and POLST forms that are forged or otherwise illegally altered.

In the latest such case, the husband of Maureen LaCapria alleges that a New York facility declined to provide Maureen life-sustaining treatment or to send her to the hospital, because of her advance directive. But Maureen’s husband claims that someone forged his wife’s signature on the DNR order.

This lawsuit seems doomed, because clinicians both may and should honor advance directives so long as they have a “good faith belief” in their validity. The actual validity should not affect clinician liability.

Granted, we could mitigate the small risk of forged advance directives with additional safeguards such as mandatory notarization. But the cost of the safeguards would be significant, because making the requisite formalities more cumbersome will thwart the completion of advance directives. In other words, by preventing one “bad” advance directive, we would likely be preventing 10,000 good ones.  

Maureen LaCapria

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