Legal Issues

Legal Issues

The ICU focus on critical care often involves the use of life-sustaining procedures. This capability of medical technology has created many questions regarding the rights of the patient, the patient's family, or others, such as insurers, pertaining to health care decisions. Various legal approaches and documents have been created to address these issues. For that reason, we have added this section to acquaint you with basic legal issues and documents pertaining to health care delivery.

Health care legal issues encompass the rights and responsibilities of many parties (i.e., patient, family, medical facility, medical personnel, insurers, etc.) and are complicated by moral, cultural, and religious beliefs and definitions. Currently, the U.S. has no comprehensive federal law pertaining to more complex issues of medical treatment.

However, patients do have generally accepted rights and responsibilities. Some have been enacted into state laws and many have been embraced to varying degrees on a voluntary basis by many medical institutions in the U.S. Because laws vary by state, not to mention foreign countries, we can only present general information here.

The following information does not constitute legal advice. Because each situation is different, it is important to seek professional legal advice about a state's law and how it applies.

For more detailed information, click on the specific term below.

Advance Directive for Health Care
Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR Order)
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPA, POA)
Living Will
Patient Bill of Rights
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