Wills and Trusts:

Duty of Medical Personnel

After you have established a health care directive, you may be worried about what happens if a medical professional does not follow your instructions. It is important to understand that health care professionals are usually required to comply with the wishes you outlined in your health care directives. They will usually honor your health care agent’s directions as long as they are a reasonable interpretation of your wishes.

There are certain situations where a doctor can reject a medical decision, including the following:

  • The decision opposes the conscience of the individual health care professional
  • The decision goes against an institutional health care policy that is based on reasons of conscience
  • The decision would lead to health care that violates health care standards or to medically ineffective health care

A medical professional who refuses to comply with your wishes must inform you or your agent. You or your agent can then choose to change physicians or institutions. In certain states, a health care professional who intentionally violates these rules can be liable for damages.