How many times have you thought — or heard someone say: “I don’t want to be kept alive by a machine.”

As COVID-19 spreads around the globe, the public is learning about the importance of mechanical ventilators in providing temporary breathing support for many of those infected. Ventilators are saving lives!

A false understanding of respirators and ventilators has become commonplace in recent years. Many people think that these and similar machines’ only role is prolonging the dying process. The widely publicized treatment of COVID-19 patients is helping to dispel that myth. Many patients rely on machines temporarily every day for any number of reasons and go on to make full recoveries.

Unfortunately, many individuals have completed advance health care directives stating or suggesting that they do not wish to receive breathing assistance through mechanical ventilation.

Please take the time to review any advanced medical directives (including POLST forms) signed by you or your loved ones to make sure they are clear that mechanical ventilation is not among the forms of care that are refused. If there is any ambiguity, you may want to consider writing, signing, and dating an addendum specifying that mechanical ventilation is authorized.

If you have not already done so, we also encourage you to think about preparing an advance health care directive—especially if you are in a high-risk group. It is important to be sure your documents indicate that you want mechanical ventilation in the event you are unable to express your health care wishes. Click here for Life Legal’s guidance on advance health care directives, which includes a link to state-specific advance directive templates.

If you or someone you know is having trouble receiving life-sustaining medical care, please contact us at or 707.224.6675.

The above comes from a March 26 release from Life Legal Defense Foundation.