It used to be that you could only specify once for all possible scenarios whether you would want medical treatment and food and hydration to be continued, and if so, for how long. Colorado’s current advance directive statute, however, allows you to specify a different course of treatment for each of the possible scenarios.
You could, for example, say that you want medical treatment immediately stopped in both a terminal condition and persistent vegetative state scenario, but would always want food and hydration to be continued indefinitely. Or you could say that you want all treatment and sustenance stopped if you are in a terminal condition, but would want to be kept alive for six months if you are thought to be in a persistent vegetative state.
It is important to note that the medical treatment that would be stopped does not include treatment being provided for pain relief and comfort. Regardless of your instructions with regard to life-extending medical treatment, your healthcare professionals will always do what they can to keep you comfortable.
In addition to end-of-life medical treatment, Colorado living wills can:
1. Specify whether the patient’s medical agent (appointed by the Medical Power of Attorney) can override the instructions contained in the living will.
2. Contain a list of friends and family members who should be given access to information about the patient.
3. Provide instructions with regard to tissue and organ donation.
4. Provide guidance with regard to religious, philosophical, or moral convictions that the patient has concerning end-of-life treatment and care.