April is National Healthcare Decisions Month, and April 16 is National Health Care Decision Day 2022. NHDD was founded in 2008 by a healthcare lawyer as an initiative to encourage friends, families and loved ones to talk about what their medical preferences are if they become incapacitated or seriously ill. It highlights the importance of writing a Living Will and choosing someone as your Durable Power of Attorney for medical decisions. This year, on April 16, recognize National Health Care Decision Day 2022 by making sure your healthcare wishes are legally documented and that your family is aware of your choices.
Why National Health Care Decision Day is Important
It can be challenging to begin a discussion regarding medical and end-of-life care. National Health Care Decision Day (NHCDD) was designed to bring awareness to patients and health care professionals about medical wishes. We not only need to discuss our medical treatment beliefs and wants but also work with an experienced attorney to have those wishes legally binding.
Advance care planning is planning for your future medical care based on your values, beliefs, preferences, and specific medical issues. It includes end-of-life care and what decisions your loved ones are to make if you cannot do so. If you are seriously ill or severely injured, you may not be able to tell your medical team how much treatment you want.
Speaking with your loved ones will let them know what you want. Your religious beliefs may be different from theirs. NHCDD is the perfect time to begin a conversation on what each person prefers in various medical situations.
When you plan now, you save your loved ones the time and confusion of trying to make the decisions you want. Having an Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney takes the guesswork out of most medical decisions.
What is a Health Care Advance Directive?
A Health Care Advance Directive (also known as a Living Will) lets your family and healthcare team know what kind of health care you want towards the end of your life. When you cannot tell your doctors when to start life-prolonging procedures and when to stop them, an advance directive explains all of your instructions and wishes.
- This legal document describes the type of medical treatment you do want and what you don’t want to receive when terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It can include treatments such as dialysis, feeding tubes, breathing machines, pain or nausea treatment, a DNR and your wishes to donate organs after your death.
- Choosing not to have aggressive treatment is different from refusing all medical care. You can still receive antibiotics, food, pain medication and other treatment. You decide when to move from prolonging life to comfort care.
Use an Advance Directive for end-of-life medical decisions and a Durable Power of Attorney for unexpected medical situations.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney allows you to designate a person (agent) to make decisions on your behalf when you cannot do so. A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) takes effect when a specific event happens. Perhaps you were in a car accident and could not explain your medical wishes to your doctors; your agent will work with them and the medical team will provide the health care you want. In this case, the DPOA is also called a Health Care Proxy or Health Care Power of Attorney.
- This legal document lets your agent speak to your health care team and make decisions according to your beliefs and wishes. The DPOA stays in place until you can express your choices again. Once you are well, you can work with your attorney to revoke the DPOA.
- Decisions your agent can make for you can include undergoing tests, treatments and surgeries. It is imperative that you completely trust this person to make medical decisions for you.
National Health Care Decision Day helps you begin the conversation with the person you want to be your agent. You can discuss your preference and beliefs, planning out if you are comfortable with invasive surgeries and what to allow the doctors to do.
Talking about advanced medical planning is essential. But the next step is to work with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney to draft an Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney customized for you.
Create an Advanced Health Care Plan That is Right for You
Having both an Advance Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney will ensure your medical wishes are carried out. Experienced South Florida Estate Planning Attorney Barry Seigel will discuss your concerns and priorities, making sure you will be taken care of in a medical emergency. When you work with a Medical Planning Attorney, you can be sure your wishes are legally binding.
The Siegel Law Group specializes in Advanced Medical Planning. Call us today for a consultation at (561) 955-8515 or book a consultation through our website for more information.