What would happen if you were severely injured in a car accident or suddenly had a major medical emergency and you were not able to communicate with those who were to provide your care? Who would speak for you? Would they know what medical interventions you wanted or did not want?
With the proper conversations and documents, you can make sure your healthcare wishes are honored, even if you were unable to speak for yourself. We’ll discuss why such a plan is important, how to choose who will speak for you, and what documents are needed legally.
While Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorney’s are legal in most states, it’s important to note that advance directives vary from state to state. So, be sure you know which documents you need in your specific state.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance care plan, otherwise known as an advance directive, is legal documentation that tells your doctor and family members what type of medical care you want if you cannot speak for yourself. For example, you may be in a coma, seriously injured in an accident, have a terminal illness, or living with severe dementia.
It describes the type of treatment you would want or not want, based on how sick you are. If you have an illness you may not recover from, what kind of care would you want? If you are sick or injured and there is a chance you may be permanently unconscious, what type of treatment do you want?
Advance directives include such documents as a Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST) or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining treatment (POLST), or Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR).
Let’s look at each of these.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
The Healthcare Power of Attorney form lets you specify someone who will speak on your behalf in the event you are unable to speak for yourself in a medical emergency. It becomes active when you are unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
While many people choose a spouse or other family member, it can be anyone who you believe will truly advocate for your wishes.
When choosing a Healthcare Power of Attorney, it’s important to keep these things in mind:
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