Who will follow your wishes for your healthcare decisions if you are incapacitated and unable to make the decisions for yourself? Hopefully you designated that person on a Patient Advocate form.
This month we are focusing on what health legal documents you need before you go to the hospital. If you missed the introduction to this series, you can find it here: The Health Legal Documents You Need Before You Go to the Hospital.
This document was very important for my mother when she was taken by ambulance to the hospital after a stroke on Labor Day evening. She and my father happily walked the Mackinac Bridge that day as they did every Labor Day for 25 years.
As you can see from this picture which was taken right after my parent’s finished their bridge walk, my mother was a vibrant, energetic 77-year-old retired nurse who felt very strongly that if she was not able to live a full life, she was comfortable with passing away. She didn’t want any extraordinary measures taken, such as major surgeries, ventilators, feeding tubes, and so on. Because she had made her wishes very clear in her Patient Advocate form there was no question among me and my five brothers and sisters as to what we should tell the doctors.
We were lucky that my mom was clear about her wishes. Many families do not have this document so the family argues about what should be done while their loved one lingers in the hospital.
It is also important to know that doctors differ in their views of end of life. Some doctors and hospitals insist that everything be done that can be done. They are concerned about being sued for malpractice or they have their own religious views.
If you don’t want the hospital, doctor, or a well-intentioned loved one making choices for your healthcare that you don’t agree with, spell out your wishes clearly in a Patient Advocate form.
The Patient Advocate form has many names, so don’t be confused if you hear these terms:
- Medical Durable Power of Attorney
- Advanced Directive
- Living Will
- Do Not Resuscitate order
All of these terms basically involve the same subject: What are your wishes for your medical care if you can’t make the decisions for yourself?
If you don’t already have a Patient Advocate form in place, speak with your hospital or attorney.
In my upcoming blog posts, I’ll discuss other legal medical documents you need. STAY TUNED!
Have you ever had problems getting the hospital to allow you or your loved one to follow your wishes? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
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