Bioethics Blogs

Dementia Exit Options – Challenges of Advance VSED

Can you leave enforceable instructions for VSED in an advance directive? JoNel Aleccia (Kaiser Health News) addresses this question in a new article printed in USA Today and other newspapers across the country this weekend.


Nora Harris signed an advance directive after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis to prevent her life from being prolonged when her disease got worse. But she’s being kept alive with assisted eating and drinking against her stated wishes.



As I noted in the article, many states authorize either advance instructions for VSED or an appointed healthcare agent’s direction for VSED. But the advance directive must provide such authorization with extraordinary clarity. Unfortunately, Harris’ advance directive (like Margot Bentley’s advance directive in a similar case) was not sufficiently clear that VSED was desired.



I have a few articles on VSED forthcoming in two medical journals. For my past legal analyses, see here, here, and here.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.