Is a severe stroke considered terminal with regards to a DNR and living will?

Pooh26 asked...

My mother is a severe stroke patient. She is DNR and has a living will stating that for any terminal illness no extraordinary measures are to be used except to provide comfort and relieve pain. My questions are (1) if she has this Living Will why is the hospital placing a feeding tube in her nose to the stomach? and (2) is a stroke considered a "terminal illness"? She has only had a saline drip since being admitted Sunday...none of the meds she was on before such as for her congestive heart failure and no nourishment of any sort...is a feeding tube to provide liquid nourishment again the living will wishes? She has lost all ability to communicate which makes this difficult and I am her daughter and healthcare surrogate. Thank you.

Expert Answer

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

The laws pertaining to advance care directives differ significantly from state to state. A stroke is not necessarily considered a terminal illness so the living will may not provide much guidance in this matter. However, if, as you indicate you are your mother's health care surrogate, you should be able to require the hosptial not to do any form of care that you do not direct. If they do not comply with your wishes, you should contact a lawyer to enforce your rights.