Legal & Ethical Decisions

Advances in treatment, technology and surgical techniques of our modern world can lead to difficult legal and ethical decisions. We want all West Suburban Medical Center patients to be prepared for all scenarios.

Before moving forward with treatment, your medical team will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each of your treatment options. We encourage you to ask any questions you may have to help you weigh all the facts. If you’re having trouble making a decision, we’re here to help. West Suburban Medical Center has an ethics committee to provide support and consultation to help you and your family with decisions such as:

  • Whether to participate in clinical trials or investigative therapies
  • Whether to continue or discontinue therapy
  • When to consider palliative care and hospice
  • When to consider organ donation
  • How to best make other major life decisions related to your medical treatment

Advance Directives

When you’re admitted to West Suburban Medical Center, you’ll be asked if you have any advance directives. These are legal documents that allow you to spell out your wishes for end-of-life care to your family members and medical team.

A living will is concerned with treatment that would prolong life when someone is near death. This is often used to state that the patient does not want to be kept alive “on machines” after their bodies have naturally given out. With this document, you can also include instructions for things like the use of dialysis, tube feeding, organ or tissue donation and if you want to be resuscitated if your breathing or heartbeat stops. However, a living will does not prevent a doctor from prescribing pain medication.

Another advance directive that you may have is a durable power of attorney for health care. This document allows you to designate another person to make health care decisions for you when you no longer can or do not wish to.

Choosing to sign an advance directive is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong decision. If you’d like more information or documents regarding advance directives, don’t hesitate to ask our staff.