Rita Marker, JD, Executive Director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, wrote in her Apr. 13, 2005 article "Be Prepared" that appeared in the National Review Online:

“Most living wills instruct an attending physician to withhold or withdraw medical interventions from its signer if he is dying or in a permanetnly vegetative state. But, since the document is so vague and the attending physician may be unfamiliar with the signer’s views and values, the document could be interpreted by the physician in a manner that was not intended by the signer. A Washington State case provides a sad example of this.

Mary Jo Estep, a very active retired schoolteacher, broke her hip. As part of her rehabilitation she checked into a nursing home where, on admission, she signed a living will that stated she was not to receive extraordinary measures if she was dying. A few days before she was to go home, a tired nurse gave Ms. Estep the wrong medication–a mistake that could have been reversed easily at a local hospital emergency room. But that didn’t happen. Instead, a doctor wrongly interpreted her living will to mean that Estep would not want treatment… She died that night…

Mary Jo Estep’s case is unusual but not unique. Other cases of overly broad interpretations of living wills have taken place.”

Apr. 13, 2005