The tragedy of the Terri Schiavo case could have been avoided if she had prepared an Advanced Medical Directive expressing her wishes if she were left in a persistent vegetative state. Instead, there were years of court battles, endless publicity, and family strife. Terri was kept alive by a feeding tube for more than 15 years.
Surveys indicate that the majority of adults, like Terri Schiavo, do not have an Advanced Medical Directive (Health Care Power of Attorney or Living Will). They too risk leaving family members fighting about appropriate medical care or, worse, receiving care contrary to what they would have wanted.
The Hugh Finn case (VA) and Ronald Mack case (MD) demonstrate that this is not an isolated incident.
It is important to communicate with your loved ones about health care issues, preferably through a proper Health Care Power of Attorney.