New State Law Could Shorten Suffering for Terminally Ill

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's about to get easier for family members and spouses to make life and death health decisions for their loved ones.

    Governor David Paterson is expected to sign a bill this afternoon that would give family the ability to make medical decisions for incapacitated patients, even if they never signed documents outlining their wishes.

    In the past, without a health care proxy or a "do not rescussitate" form signed by the patient, relatives could not make decisions, for instance, to disconnect life support or discontinue medication to a terminally ill patient.

    Lawmakers say only a small percentage of people actually sign such paperwork in advance, resulting in extended suffering for terminally ill patients. 

    Under the new law, in order to take someone off life support,  two doctors would have to conclude  a patient isn't expected to survive for six months with or without treatment.