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Advance Healthcare Directive

What Is an Advance Healthcare Directive (and What Does It Do)

When it comes to our healthcare, we all hope for the best. But what happens if we’re suddenly faced with a medical emergency and are unable to make our own decisions? Without a proper plan, you won’t have a say in your medical treatment. The responsibility for your health could fall on your family members or doctors, who may not know your preferences for medical treatment. Luckily, an advance healthcare directive will allow you to still have a say in your treatment plans, even if you’re not able to communicate at the moment.

What Is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that describes your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. These directives are often written by probate lawyers, and they can include your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, organ donation, and pain management. It can also appoint a healthcare proxy, who will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Advance directives provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones, as they ensure that your wishes will be respected in the event of a medical emergency. Creating an advance directive is an important step in ensuring that you receive the type of care that you desire.

The Patient Self-Determination Act

The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1990. The PSDA gives patients the right to make decisions about their medical care, including the right to accept or refuse medical treatment. The law also requires healthcare providers to give patients information about their rights under the PSDA. In addition, the PSDA requires healthcare facilities to develop policies and procedures regarding advance directives, such as living wills and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. The PSDA is an important law that protects patients’ rights and ensures that they have a say in their medical care.
doctor consulting patient

Advance Healthcare Directives vs. Medical Power of Attorney

While both documents are important, many people are unaware of the differences between an advance healthcare directive and medical power of attorney. An advance healthcare directive is a legal document that outlines your wishes for medical care if you’re unable to communicate for yourself and provides detailed instructions as to life-saving procedures that you are authorizing for your care. It also allows for you to state limitations on care as well as whether or not you authorize an autopsy or organ donation should you pass away. A medical power of attorney similarly designates someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf under certain conditions. However, this document leaves most of the decisions up to your named healthcare agent versus stating them more explicitly in the Advanced Directive. Both documents can be used to express your wishes if you become incapacitated, but they provide different levels of information related to your wishes regarding medical treatment. Because of this, it’s important to discuss both of these options with your lawyer, doctor, and loved ones to ensure you make the best decision for your health.

How To Discuss Advance Directives With Your Loved Ones

While it’s important for your doctor to understand your advance healthcare directive, it’s equally important to discuss your directive with your family. Discussing serious medical problems or end-of-life care can be frightening or upsetting for anyone, but if your family isn’t aware of your advance directives, then they may not be able to understand the decisions being made by doctors or they may not know how to answer questions by doctors. To help ease the stress of these discussions, we’ve described a few tips to make this conversation easier for you and your loved ones
helping elderly mother

Open the Discussion Early

Many people avoid having discussions about healthcare directives because they find the topic difficult to broach. However, these discussions are important to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of a medical emergency. Discussing your healthcare plans early allows you and your loved ones to understand your decision and plan for unexpected incidents. These early conversations can also help ease any tension or anxiety that may arise during a crisis. By having early discussions about your healthcare directives, you can give yourself and your loved ones some peace of mind.

Focus on the Positives

When you’re telling your loved ones about your healthcare directive, it’s important to focus on the positives of the situation. While it might seem strange for such a serious situation to have benefits, you’re sharing these details with your loved ones because you trust them to follow your wishes and want to give them some peace of mind. It’s an example of your trust in them to make the decisions that you want. If you just take a breath and start the conversation, you may be surprised at how willing they are to listen and engage in this important discussion.
Advance Healthcare Directive

What To Do After You’ve Created Your Advance Healthcare Directive

Now that you’ve taken the time to create your advance healthcare directive, it’s important to take a few additional steps to ensure that your wishes will be carried out. First, make copies of the directive and give them to your doctor, your family members, and anyone else who might be involved in your care. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy in a safe place, such as a fireproof box or a safety deposit box. You should also review your directive on a regular basis and update it as needed. And finally, be sure to communicate your wishes to your loved ones and make sure they know where to find a copy of your advanced healthcare directive should they need it. They may need to make difficult decisions on your behalf, and it’s important that they know what you would want. By taking these simple steps, you can help to ensure that your advance healthcare directive will be followed if you’re ever unable to speak for yourself.

Hire a Lawyer To Help With Your Advance Healthcare Directive

If you have any questions about your advance healthcare directive or want to ensure you have every detail covered, you should contact a lawyer that can provide you with more information. You may also want to discuss estate planning or estate administration plans at this time since they also deal with end-of-life care and emergencies. Regardless of your situation, the lawyers at Fennell, Briasco & Associates will be able to help you create an advance healthcare directive that will help you and your loved ones.