Applicable West Virginia Laws

West Virginia recognizes the living will, medical power of attorney or a combined medical power of attorney and living will. The state of West Virginia provides a living will form but also recognizes living wills from other states. Any competent adult may execute a living will, which must be in writing, dated, and signed by two adult witnesses who may not be relatives, the person who signed the living will or medical power of attorney on behalf of the principal, the physician, the attorney, or anyone who will benefit financially from the estate.


West Virginia Health Care Decisions Act (amended in 2002 & 2007)
The West Virginia Health Care Decisions Act addresses the issue of a patient's right to self-determination in health care decisions and provides a process for decision-making for incapacitated adults. This law outlines the use of advance directives, living wills and medical power of attorney. It clearly states that the withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging treatment in accordance with the decision of those with medical power of attorney, or a legal surrogate, does not constitute assisted suicide or murder. Additionally, the West Virginia Health Care Decision Act mandates statewide distribution of standardized physician orders for scope of treatment (POST) forms.

Physician orders for scope of treatment (POST) sample
POST forms are to be kept with a patient's records and transferred from one health care facility to another. POST forms are bright pink so that they can be easily recognized by emergency medical services personnel and other health care providers. POST provides information regarding the care of the patient, including the following:

  1. The orders of a qualified physician regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation, level of medical intervention in the event of a medical emergency, use of antibiotics and use of medically administered fluids and nutrition and the basis for the orders;
  2. The signature of the qualified physician;
  3. Whether the person has completed an advance directive or had a guardian, medical power of attorney representative or surrogate appointed;
  4. The signature of the person or his or her guardian, medical power of attorney representative, or surrogate acknowledging agreement with the orders of the qualified physician;
  5. The date, location and outcome of any review of the physician orders for scope of treatment form. The physician orders for scope of treatment form shall be kept as the first page in a person's medical record in a health care facility unless otherwise specified in the health care facility's policies and procedures and shall be transferred with the person from one health care facility to another.

Instant Feedback:
POST forms are bright pink so they are easily recognized and should be transferred with patients from one facility to another.

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Do Not Resuscitate Act: Article 30C
By West Virginia law, every person is presumed to have consented to cardiopulmonary resuscitation unless one or more of the following conditions, of which the health care provider has actual knowledge, apply:

Text of the law, which includes a sample DNR form:


MANAGEMENT OF PAIN ACT: West Virginia Code § 30-3A-2.

Limitation on disciplinary sanctions or criminal punishment related to management of intractable pain.
(a) A physician shall not be subject to disciplinary sanctions by a licensing board or criminal punishment by the state for prescribing, administering or dispensing pain-relieving controlled substances for the purpose of alleviating or controlling intractable pain when:
(1) In a case of intractable pain involving a dying patient, in practicing in accordance with an accepted guideline as defined in section one of this article, the physician discharges his or her professional obligation to relieve the dying patient's intractable pain and promote the dignity and autonomy of the dying patient, even though the dosage exceeds the average dosage of a pain-relieving controlled substance; or
(2) In the case of intractable pain involving a patient who is not dying, the physician discharges his or her professional obligation to relieve the patient's intractable pain, even though the dosage exceeds the average dosage of a pain-relieving controlled substance, if the physician can demonstrate by reference to an accepted guideline that his or her practice substantially complied with that accepted guideline. Evidence of substantial compliance with an accepted guideline may be rebutted only by the testimony of a clinical expert. Evidence of noncompliance with an accepted guideline is not sufficient alone to support disciplinary or criminal action.
(b) A registered nurse shall not be subject to disciplinary sanctions by a licensing board or criminal punishment by the state for administering pain-relieving controlled substances to alleviate or control intractable pain, if administered in accordance with the orders of a licensed physician.
(c) A registered pharmacist shall not be subject to disciplinary sanctions by a licensing board or criminal punishment by the state for dispensing a prescription for a pain-relieving controlled substance to alleviate or control intractable pain, if dispensed in accordance with the orders of a licensed physician.
(d) For purposes of this section, the term "disciplinary sanctions" includes both remedial and punitive sanctions imposed on a licensee by a licensing board, arising from either formal or informal proceedings.
(e) The provisions of this section shall apply to the treatment of all patients for intractable pain, regardless of the patient's prior or current chemical dependency or addiction. The board may develop and issue policies or guidelines establishing standards and procedures for the application of this article to the care and treatment of persons who are chemically dependent or addicted.

Instant Feedback:
West Virginia protects the nurse from disciplinary action and criminal punishment, when pain contolling substances, exceeding the average dose, are administered to alleviate intractable pain in accordance with a licensed physicians order.
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