Be Health Smart – The Importance of An Advance Medical Directive

According to HealthDay News, two thirds of American adults have not completed an advance medical directive. Meaning, they’re not telling their loved ones how to handle medical issues when the time comes for one’s final days.

An advance medical directive is a legal tool used to outline an individual’s wishes such as medical interventions and treatments.  By designating an “agent”, you can ensure that your wishes are taken care of. An agent is someone who you trust will have your best interests at heart.

Unless you state otherwise on the advance medical directive form, your agent will generally have the right to:

  • Consent or refuse consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition.
  • Select or discharge health care providers and institutions.
  • Approve or disapprove diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs of medication.
  • Direct the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of health care, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Donate organs or tissues, authorize an autopsy, and direct disposition of remains.

Generally speaking, advance medical directives gall into three categories:

  1. Living Will
  2. Power of Attorney
  3. Healthcare Proxy

A Living Will is a written document that specifies what types of medical treatments are desired should the individual become incapacitated.  Living wills can be general; such as a statement about the use of extraordinary measures to prolong life. Living wills can also be quite specific; such as what types of antibiotics to use.

A Power of Attorney provides a trusted agent with the ability to take over the affairs for an incapacitated individual (see my blog post on February 20, 2018 for more information on a Power of Attorney.

A Healthcare Proxy is a legal document that allows someone else to make healthcare decisions on behalf of an individual. This is applicable when rendered incapable of making healthcare decisions on their own.

Situations where an advance medical directive become important can include comas, brain injuries, strokes, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and other critical medical issues that render an individual incapable of making decisions on a limited or permanent basis.

My office will help you sort through the complexities of having the right advanced medical directive! Every adult should have one as we never know when an accident or medical condition may make us unable to make decisions on our own behalf.

I look forward to meeting with you and your loved ones. Together we can develop an advance medical directive that meets your needs and that outlines your wishes for care.  The peace of mind that such a directive can have is well worth the effort and cost. An advanced medical directive is one of the most important legal documents to have on hand.


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