My last post discussed being a good advocate for your, or your loved-ones healthcare. The following is a re-post of my 2017 article identifying the need for Advance Healthcare directives and medical instructions which should be considered when we can no-longer speak for ourselves.
This week’s post continues with providing medical information and instructions during an emergency. We’ve discussed Power of Attorney, but did not cover what kind of instruction can be provided if the POA is not available. There are other advance directive documents specifically for this situation. There are several different names for the documents which share the same function as the Advance Health Care Directive; Advanced Directive, Advanced Decision, Personal Directive, or Living Will. This is a legally binding document a person uses to specify the medical care that they can be given under end-of-life conditions. Three common phrases used on Advance Directives are Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), Do Not Intubate (DNI), and Do Not Hospitalize (DNH). Another commonly used phrase is ‘No Heroic Measures’. It is often suggested to avoid the use of this phrase due to its lack of clarity. In its stead, give specific direction for medical treatment such as: the use of a feeding tube, mechanical ventilation or intubation, catheters, shock, or vasopressors. Most health care facilities have a DNR form on hand for the patient to fill out upon arrival (if able). I think we can agree, however, that this is something that should be thought about and discussed with loved ones prior to an emergency situation. But all of these documents are useless if they can’t be found when needed. This is why I recommend keeping copies of them with the EMI documents and the POAs discussed in earlier posts.
I am always amazed when I find couples who have not discussed the advance directive options with their spouse or POA. They often find that their wishes were not as clear as they believed. I suggest the following steps to avoid any misunderstandings:
1. Schedule a meeting with your spouse and/or loved ones to discuss what actions you’d like to be performed in the event of a medical emergency.
2. Search the internet for an example Advance Health Care Directive which suits your needs. There are many available.
3. Store a copy with your EMI and POA documents.
4. Discuss your wishes with friends and families to minimize the stress during a difficult time.
Be aware that requirements for advance directives can differ by state. And although states usually honor the home states directives, it is not always the case. Therefore, if you reside in more than one state, you may need directives for each state.
Below is a link to an excellent resource for further information and example documents for each state.
Thanks for reading,
And remember to take the next step…