Our Advanced Directive for Healthcare combines the old healthcare power of attorney and living will into a single document. The first part of the Advance Directive appoints your agents and lists the powers your agents have. An Advance Directive for Healthcare appoints either individuals or a panel of individuals to make medical decisions for you. These days hospitals often seem more interested in the type of insurance you have than providing you with the medical care you need. Therefore, getting you the medical care you need may depend on how quickly we can get your information to the medical provider whether that’s an EMT or hospital or school/college or doctor’s office. Your Advance Directive for Healthcare is your tool to ensure the hospitals follow your wishes with regard to your healthcare.
I often use the panel of agents in my Advance Directives simply because it gives the medical provider a list of people to call if you have an emergency. Each of your agents should have a copy of your directive plus a list of your primary doctor, medications, allergies, medical history and your other emergency contacts. I make sure you and your agents have this in one of two ways: (1) we have a program that keeps that information for you remotely and you receive a card you can stick right behind your health insurance card with an 800 number to get the information anyone needs or (2) we make you a 3×5 laminated card with your emergency contacts, primary doctor, medications, allergies and medical history. The older a client is the bigger the card might become, but the card, in an informal way, will make the information needed by an emergency room nurse easy to access and communicate.
I have been in this situation. My grandfather got into a car accident while my dad (his only son) was out of town. It fell to me to go to the emergency room to see if I could help the nurses there and find out what his condition and prognosis would be and take him home if needed. I knew that he had broken his back a couple of times doing work outside that he had no business doing but we couldn’t prevent him. But other than that, I had no idea what medications he took and what he needed at the hospital and what he could wait on. For instance, he took several vitamins to promote his general health but he wasn’t dependent on those and certainly didn’t need to pay emergency room prices for them. Without going back to his home and looking for his medications or calling his main doctor, I had no clue.
My grandfather’s planning documents didn’t really work for him because I did not have a copy and I did not have the information I needed to help make an informed decision regarding his medical treatment. Luckily he was just bruised, but, if it were more serious, I would have needed more information to be sure that the treatment wouldn’t have a negative effect with some other medication he was taking.
We often have clients come in before a medical procedure to create and sign an Advance Directive for Healthcare. We are happy to help if you need an Advance Directive for Healthcare. If you are not sure, we do offer a 30-minute free consultation either by phone or in person at our office.