Life Support Law & Legal Definition


The term life support includes any life-sustaining medical treatment, procedure, or intervention that, in the judgment of the attending physician, when applied to the patient, would serve only to prolong the dying process where the patient has a terminal illness or injury, or would serve only to maintain the patient in a condition of permanent unconsciousness. These procedures shall include, but are not limited to, assisted ventilation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, renal dialysis, surgical procedures, blood transfusions, and the administration of drugs and antibiotics. 

Life-sustaining treatment does not include the administration of medication or the performance of any medical treatment where, in the opinion of the attending physician, the medication or treatment is necessary to provide comfort or to alleviate pain.

Many people choose to prepare a living will. Many states allow a living will in order that the rights of individuals may be respected even after they are no longer able to participate actively in decisions about themselve. State laws vary, but many shall recognize the right of a competent adult person to make a written declaration instructing his or her physician to provide, withhold, or withdraw life-sustaining treatment and artificially provided nutrition and hydration or designate by lawful written form a health care proxy to make decisions on behalf of the adult person concerning the providing, withholding, or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment and artificially provided nutrition and hydration in instances of terminal conditions and permanent unconsciousness. There are also statutes, which vary by state, providing for surrogate decision-makers in instances where the individual has not made such a designation.