Selected and reviewed
by James Park,
existential philosopher and medical ethicist.
Listed in order of quality, beginning with the best.
The red comments are the evaluative opinions of this reviewer.
Norman L. Cantor
Advance Directives and the Pursuit of Death with Dignity
(Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993) 209 pages
excellent book on Advance
Directives from a legal point of view.
The author is a professor of law, who had a hand in drafting
New Jersey's model legislation for Advance Directives,
which might be the most comprehensive and liberal in the United States.
The book includes criticisms of the limitations
of 'living will' laws in several states and suggests improvements.
Dr. Cantor includes his own Advance Directive,
which focuses mainly on the loss of dignity as the test for deciding
when to withdraw or withhold further life-sustaining measures.
The book also presents some imaginary cases
in which proxies might consider overriding an Advance Directive.
Some other major themes:
(1) autonomy in medical
for the competent and the incompetent;
(2) proxy's powers to interpret and enforce Advance Directives;
(3) possible problems
encountered in making
and how to avoid them, for instance,
what to do if a doctor or hospital has principles or policies
that run counter to the requests in an Advance Directive;
(4) deciding for
patients who have become
and have forgotten their reasons for making their Advance Directives
and now 'decide' that they want to live under diminished circumstances.
book raises and answers
a number of legal questions that
persons writing comprehensive Advance Directives should consider.
Allen E. Buchanan &
Dan W. Brock
Deciding for Others: The Ethics of Surrogate Decision Making
(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989) 422 pages
is perhaps the best
and most comprehensive book on medical
decision-making for pre-persons, full persons, & former persons,
who might not be capable of deciding for themselves.
It is especially relevant for the proxy provisions of any Advance Directive.
The major themes:
(1) determining competence;
(2) patient-centered principles for deciding;
(3) Advance Directives and continuity of personhood;
(4) considering the impact on society;
(5) deciding for infants and minors;
(6) deciding for the elderly;
(7) proxies for people with behavioral problems.
book is recommended
for everyone making decisions for others.
Robert S. Olick
Taking Advance Directives Seriously:
Prospective Autonomy and Decisions near the End of Life
Georgetown UP, 2001) 228 pages
(ISBN: 0-87840-868-1; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: KF3827.E87O43 2001)
(Medical call number: W85.5O46t 2001)
A well-reasoned plea for honoring Advance Directives for Medical Care.
The author recognizes that ADs are often ignored by doctors and hospitals,
because their own standards of care are more familiar to them.
But better enforcement of ADs should allow all of us
to die in the ways that seem best to us.
Here are some of the major issues discussed:
1. What to do with a patient in a coma?
2. We honor other decisions made in advance, such as estate wills.
3. Core values or settled values should be embodied in an Advance Directive.
4. What if the maker of an Advance Directive becomes a new person or a former person?
5. What about situations not covered in the Advance Directive?
6. What if advances
in medical science and medical treatment
make an old decision obsolete?
For example, what if a disease specifically named in an Advance Directive
is no longer always fatal?
7. What happens when the proxy and the Advance Directive seem to differ?
As can be seen from these issues and
this book tends to be rather philosophical and technical.
But it does raise many valid issues and worries
that should be considered in creating
a comprehensive Advance Directive for Medical Care.
Jeanne Fitzpatrick, MD & Eileen M. Fitzpatrick, JD
A Better Way of Dying:
How to Make the Best Choices at the End of Life
Penguin Books: www.penguin.com,
2010) 222 pages
(ISBN: 978-0-14-311675-2; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: R726.2.F58 2012)
(Medical call number: W85.5F559b 2012)
Two sisters—a physician and a lawyer—have created
what they hope will be a simple form of Advance Directive.
Their main emphasis is taking advantage of "exit events",
when it would be entirely appropriate to end all curative treatments.
They call their two-page Advance Directive
a "Contract for Compassionate Care".
(Washington, DC: Georgetown UP, 1996—Revised Edition) 286 pages
Nancy King is a professor
in a medical school who has a law degree.
This book deals with the legal, ethical, & philosophical dimensions
of making Advance Directives for medical care: refusing treatment,
deciding for others, problems of interpretation and implementation.
This book is probably too technical
to be helpful for the average person creating an Advance Directive,
but those who want to know the background issues should consult it.
David Doukas, MD & William Reichel, MD
Planning for Uncertainty:
A Guide to Living Wills and other Advance Directives for Health Care
Johns Hopkins, UP, 1993) 147 pages
(ISBN: 0-8018-4670-6; hardcover)
(ISBN: 0-8018-4671-4; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: KF3827.E87D68 1993)
elementary presentation—using question-and-answer format—
of the basic facts about Advance Directives.
Generic forms are included at the end of this volume.
This book is probably too simple for most readers.
But it could be a place to begin
for someone who knows nothing about 'living wills', etc.
revised and expanded edition has been published.
D. Lieberson, MD,
Advance Medical Directives
(Deerfield, IL: Clark,
1992) 879 pages
(Eagan, MN: West: cumulative supplement August 2004) 1964 pages
physician and lawyer
has created a comprehensive summary
of almost 3,000 pages, dealing with every aspect of Advance Directives.
It will stand as the standard work on the subject for many years.
For several years following publication, the author created a supplement
updating the book as new cases are decided and new state laws created.
He has reviewed all the court cases having to do with the right-to-die,
especially those involving proxy decision-making and 'living wills'.
The cumulative supplement has now grown to about twice the size of the original book.
And in some senses it is a clipping service for articles published elsewhere.
If and when a new edition of Advance Medical Directives is published,
much of this new material will have to be condensed
to make the book a reasonable size.
Some of the most important themes:
(1) what state laws say;
(2) needed changes;
(3) problems honoring Advance Directives;
(4) legal bases for Advance Directives;
(5) Do Not Resuscitate orders;
(6) durable power of attorney for health care;
(7) the right-to-die;
(8) organ donation;
(9) physician aid-in-dying.
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press: www.press.jhu.edu,
1998) 311 pages
(ISBN: 0-8018-5831-3; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: R726.2.A38 1998)
(Medical call number: W85.5A245 1998)
This book examines many aspects of advance decision-making
for people who might later become incapable of making medical decisions.
It takes a cross-cultural look at actual practices
as well as the laws in the USA, Germany, & Japan.
Each contributor writes about the situation in his own country.
The most important chapter is by Alan Meisel, JD:
Chapter 2: "Legal Issues in Decision Making for Incompetent Patients:
Advance Directives and Surrogate Decision Making".
When state laws have attempted to limit the scope of Advance Directives,
the courts have usually allowed the written AD to prevail.
Legal incompetence (losing all adult rights) is usually not required
for an Advance Directive to be effective.
Normally the doctor merely turns to the next of kin
when the patient seems no longer able to make wise medical decisions.
Some states have attempted to set a higher standard of proof
for the decision to withhold or withdraw food and water,
but courts have usually ruled that these are forms of medical treatment,
which can therefore be decided in the same ways as any other treatments.
We always have the right to refuse medical treatment.
And we always have the right to give up food and water.
The fact that nutrition and hydration are provided by tubes makes no difference.
Carol Krohm, MD & Scott Summers
Advance Health Care Directives:
A Handbook for Professionals
Distinctive Publishing Corp.,
1994) 102 pages
(Out of print: Borrow from library or buy a used copy)
medical director of
a nursing home tells the stories of several
patients who were kept alive after their minds were gone
—because they had no Advance Directives
and others were reluctant to stop feeding and "watering" them.
He recommends documents that refuse water
when we can no longer feed ourselves.
Death by dehydration is the preferred way to die.
This book makes a strong case for having a good 'living will'
or a durable power of attorney for health care.
Chris Hackler, Ray Moseley,
& Dorothy E. Vawter, eds.
Advance Directives in Medicine
(New York: Praeger Publishers, 1989)
Papers presented at a conference
in May 1985 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
18 contributors discuss many dimensions of the subject.
Now mainly of historical interest
—for people who have read the most recent books.
Your Last Year:
Creating Your Own Advance Directive for Medical Care
Existential Books: www.existentialbooks.com,
2006) 248 pages
(Library of Congress call number: KF3827.E87.P37 2006)
Suggestions for additional
books to include
on this Advance Directive Bibliography
should be sent to James Park by e-mail:
Go to the Portal
Directives for Medical Care
which is a comprehensive listing of Internet resources for ADs.
Return to MEDICAL ETHICS page.
If you would like to
see a description of
a workshop on 'living wills',
click: 'Living Will' Workshop .
If you would like to
see the Questions that
should be answered
in a comprehensive Advance Directive,
click: Questions for Your Advance Directive .
If you would like to
read James Park's Answers to these Questions,
read his Advance Directive for Medical Care:
James Park's Advance Directive for Medical Care .
Go to the opening page
for this website:
An Existential Philosopher's Museum.