KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Most Americans Still Don’t Draft Advance Directives Or Living Wills

The Associated Press: "Five years after the court fight over allowing Terri Schiavo to die, most Americans still don't draft the legal documents that spell out how far caregivers should go to keep them alive artificially. Schiavo's life and death captivated the country and fueled conversations about the necessity of the documents, known as advance directives or living wills. Even though millions witnessed a worse-case scenario, there's no indication it had a lasting impact on getting more people to make their wishes known. ... The protracted family fight over keeping Schiavo alive, and her ultimate death March 31, 2005, plastered her story in headlines and prompted an immediate spike in Americans filling out advance directives. But while Schiavo's struggle remains in the minds of many, the momentum it created for writing the instructions appears to have ebbed." End-of-life experts estimate that about the same percentage of U.S. adults have advance directives as before the Schiavo case and, even in polls of older Americans, "there is little if any change from 2005" (Sedensky, 3/30). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.