National Healthcare Decisions Day is April 16. Sponsor of The Conversation Project, The Institute for Healthcare Improvement uses this date to remind the public of the importance of having conversations and documenting our healthcare wishes for the future. Advance care planning or a healthcare directive is a legal document that states a person’s preferences for medical treatment, medical decision-making and end-of-life care. These conversations are important for those in Las Cruces of all ages, as unexpected healthcare situations can happen at any time.
Advance care planning documents commonly include the following:
- A durable power of attorney for healthcare names someone to function as a proxy or agent for the principal, or person signing the document, when he or she may be unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves.
- A living will includes an individual’s wishes for end-of-life treatment. This can concern specific procedures such as dialysis, tubal feeding, or blood transfusion. If the person becomes permanently unconscious (coma), families can make treatment decisions based on wishes expressed in a living will.
- A HIPAA Authorization agrees to share or release medical information. It is not a decision-making document, but it allows authorized persons to speak with doctors and other healthcare providers about medical care and to see the medical records of the patient.
- A do-not-resuscitate order (DNR) is put with a patient’s chart when the patient doesn’t want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if their heart stops or breathing ceases. A doctor needs to sign these DNR orders before they can be placed in the patient’s charts.
Read more about Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives in our article.
Most people want to express their wishes to avoid aggressive measures being taken to extend their lives, when the end result will be suffering and a delay of their passing. Others chose to avoid the financial burdens that may or may not result in any kind of change in their health or the quality of their life.
Some have these documents prepared to make it clear that they want to spend their final months, weeks or days at home with loved ones with care only to relieve pain or care, so they can be conscious and able to speak with those around them.
Healthcare directives are a blessing to loved ones since they do not have to make hard choices in a crisis situation. They know what their aging parent or spouses wishes.
It’s important to choose the person you want to be responsible for your care well in advance. Make sure it’s someone you trust, who knows you well and will be able to make hard decisions in a highly emotional time. They’ll also have to be able to communicate with your doctors and family members.
These documents are bound by New Mexico state laws, so speak with Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney Michele Ungvarsky who will be able to prepare these documents on your behalf, along with a will and other estate planning documents.