If you or a loved one has been admitted to a hospital or nursing home, you have probably been asked if you have Advanced Directives or if you would like to execute Advanced Directives… During times of stress, it is often difficult to make informed decisions. It is best to complete these documents when you have a clear understanding of the intent of these forms. Once completed, Advanced Directives should be made readily available to family members and your health care professionals.
What are Advanced Directives?
Advanced Directives are legal documents that allow you to put in writing, your preferences for health care. These documents are medical directives that clearly communicate your wishes to health care professionals, family members and significant others. It is of great significance to have these in place, if you are incapacitated in the future due to a serious illness or injury.
Four types of Advanced Directives for health care are;
- Living Will
- Health Care Proxy, Surrogate or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
- DNR ( Do not resuscitate)
- Court Appointed Guardian
A Living Will is a detailed account of how you wish to receive treatment for end of life issues. This document is in effect when a Physician determines that a person is mentally or physically incapacitated and they have an end stage condition or is in a persistent vegetative state. The Physician must determine that the patient has no reasonable medical probability to recover. Providing life sustaining procedures would prolong death. Some of the medical treatments that are frequently addressed are the usage of artificial nutrition and hydration and a respirator. But you can include any other wishes that you have such as no blood transfusions, diagnostic tests, palliative care, etc.
Health Care Surrogate (also known as a Health Care Proxy, or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
This legal document allows a person to name someone to make medical decisions for them, in the event they are determined to be incapacitated. There is a place on this form for an alternate person, if the first named is unavailable. When executing this document, it is important that those persons that you name are agreeable to accepting this role and they know your health care wishes and are willing to speak on your behalf.
DNR (Do not Resuscitate)
The Florida Department of Health provides DNR forms, which are only valid if printed on yellow paper, signed and dated by the person and the Physician. This document advises health care professionals that the person does not want to be resuscitated, in the event of a respiratory or cardiac arrest. It is ordered by a Physician, with informed consent of a patient. It can also be signed by a Health Care Proxy or Legal Guardian, if the patient is unable. It is generally used for persons with a terminal illness, end stage disease or a persistent vegetative state.
Court Appointed Guardian
In the event that there are no Advanced Directives for an incapacitated person, it may be necessary for a legal action, to appoint a Guardian. To obtain a Court Appointed Guardian, in the State of Florida, it is necessary to file a Petition to determine capacity, a Petition for the appointment of a Guardian and an Application for appointment as a Guardian. Once approved by the court, the Guardian assumes the role to make ethical decisions based on the best interest of the patient.
It is important that you contact an Elder Law attorney, to clearly understand the complexities of Advanced Directives. The Akin Law P.A. team is here to answer your questions and guide you through the process, to make plans for future health care according to your wishes. Call today for an appointment.