Ohio has adopted the Modified Uniform Rights of the Terminally Ill Act which governs the use and execution of written advance directives as expressions of a patient's desire to consent to or refuse future medical treatment. However, the Act also includes a provision that grants both civil and criminal immunity to health care providers who do not comply with a person's written advance directive. Unfortunately, because of the grant of civil and criminal immunity encompassed within the adopted written advance directive statutes, Ohio law today does not afford any greater protection of a patient's right to refuse medical treatment at the end-of-life through the use of a written declaration than it did when Edna Leach's wishes, as orally conveyed by her family, were disregarded at the end of her own life. In 2006, Ohio citizens, when confronting their own end -of-life decisions and considering the use of written advance directives, cannot be certain that their families will be spared the grief that the Leach family endured while they watched their mother be kept alive against her wishes in 1980. This article will argue that Ohio law does not adequately protect an individual's right to autonomy when exercised through the implementation of an advance directive. In Part II, this article will examine the growing need for advance directives and attribute this need to the evolution of medical treatments, such as CPR, and the fear health care providers have regarding the inaccuracy and unreliability of a patient's orally expressed wishes regarding medical treatment as communicated through a patient's family members and loved ones. Part III will examine the history of the right to autonomy in Ohio, with specific emphasis on the Leach case and the Modified Uniform Rights of the Terminally Ill Act. Part IV will show how Ohio courts have undermined patients' rights to refuse medical treatment through the use of a written advance directive by prohibiting recovery to patients whose written advance directives have been blatantly disregarded and thus, have sued health care providers under Ohio's only permissible causes of action of negligence, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Finally, Part V will propose a four-part resolution, comprised of: repealing civil and criminal immunity; codifying a patient's right to seek a remedy; recognition of a national advance directive form; and encouraging awareness of a national living will directory.
Note, Current State of Advance Directive Law in Ohio: More Protective of Provider Liability than Patients Rights, 19 J.L. & Health 411 (2004-2005)