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Last-wish ID cards?


A Michigan lawmaker says a person's end-of-life wishes should be accessible during an emergency.

You may have what's called a "living will" that determines what kind of care -- if any -- you want if you have, say, a heart attack. But if you don't have that document with you, emergency responders are going to try to bring you back to life.
"Their first default is to resuscitate, and in your case, that's wrong. It's not what you wanted to do, but they didn't know that because they didn't have the document," says State Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw.

"When they (living wills) are not followed, you are assaulted by the medical system and then charged a bill for it."

Kahn says state-issued ID cards that link to living wills would let emergency responders know whether you want to be resuscitated.

"You have to have legislation which says that the ambulance personnel shall search for that document, which, in my opinion, should be available by pressing a button or two."

Kahn says such a program would spare the pain and expense of unwanted treatment.

Kahn -- who is a physician -- says many people resuscitated after suffering a heart attack outside of a hospital don't survive or have a very poor quality of life afterward.

"Statistics show that if you have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, half of the people die in the field before anybody gets there," Kahn says. "Of the remaining half, another half die during CPR, which includes putting tubes in your body and breaking your ribs.

"So now there are one-quarter that are still alive. Half of them will die in the emergency room, and of the one-eighth who are now alive -- 12 percent -- half of them will die during the hospitalization. And now of the six percent alive, half of those have permanent brain damage."

Kahn says the financial impact of using extraordinary lifesaving measures can take a big toll on families and on the state.

"We have priorities that need to be honored for the individual, and society as a whole," Kahn says. "There's always a competition for the dollars to do that and for the laws that embrace our people's rights."