Should a Nurse Sign a Client's Living Will as a Witness?

Question:

A nurse is caring for a client with multiple sclerosis. The client informs the nurse that a lawyer is coming to prepare a living will and requests the nurse to sign as a witness. Which action should the nurse take?

Answer:

As a nurse, caring for a client with multiple sclerosis (MS), it is essential to be knowledgeable about the living wills. In this case, if the client requests the nurse to sign the living will as a witness, the nurse should not sign the will as a witness. A nurse should not sign as a witness because it may create a conflict of interest between the nurse and the client.

The Importance of Living Wills:

Living wills are legal documents that outline an individual’s wishes and preferences concerning their health care when they become incapable of making medical decisions for themselves. These documents serve as a guide for healthcare providers and family members to ensure that the individual's wishes are respected and followed.

Why Nurses Shouldn't Sign as Witnesses:

When a client asks a nurse to sign as a witness on their living will, it can create a conflict of interest. Nurses are bound by ethical standards to prioritize the well-being of their patients above all else. By signing as a witness, the nurse may be perceived as biased or having a vested interest in the contents of the document.

Legal Requirements for Living Wills:

Living wills are typically prepared by lawyers to ensure they comply with state laws and regulations. These documents require the signatures of two witnesses to attest to the client's capacity and willingness to make such decisions. Nurses should not take on the role of a witness in such situations to maintain professional boundaries and integrity.

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