LIVING WILLS AND THE COVID-19 VIRUS
DOES MY LIVING WILL PRECLUDE THE DOCTORS FROM PLACING ME ON A RESPIRATOR IF I AM INFECTED BY COVID?
Generally, the answer is no.
In Iowa, most Living Wills (also known as a Declaration Relating to Life Sustaining Procedures) are designed to cover two different and very limited medical scenarios; each with two different requirements.
Scenario #1. If I have an incurable, terminal condition AND my death is relatively imminent, then I don’t want the doctors to be heroes in order to save my life. Because COVID is not necessarily terminal (and is often curable), the Living Will does not preclude the doctors from placing me on a respirator.
Scenario #2. If I am in a coma AND it is irreversible, then I want the doctors to pull the plug or to not plug me in in the first place. Because COVID does not necessarily cause a coma and is often curable, the Living Will does not preclude the doctors from placing me on a respirator.
The Living Will would apply, and the doctors should not put me on a respirator if, for example, I already have terminal cancer and I will die in a month anyway and then become infected with COVID. Or, for example, if I am in a coma and then become infected with COVID.