Friday, August 28, 2009

Advanced Health Care Directive: WSJ Article About "Preparing For The Final Hours"

Lately, there has been a great deal of discussion about health-care reform. The issue of living wills and health care directives has also come up. The August 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal has an article entitled "Preparing For The Final Hours."

The article notes that less than a third of American adults, and less than half of nursing-home patients, have filled out health care directives. There are a number of reasons for not doing so: (1) lack of understanding of the options or the consequences, (2) lack of understanding of the legalities, and (3) reluctance by people to discuss the subject of death.

The Advance Health Care Directive identifies the individuals that you desire to act for you if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. The most common decision involves when, and under what circumstances, extraordinary measures should be used to prolong life. There are also sections of the Advanced Health Care Directive which deal with whether or not you desire to be an organ donor. This is part of our basic estate plan package.

In order to prepare for determining your intentions, I would suggest that you read an Advanced Health Care Directive, and think about the following questions:

(1) Who do you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't make them?

(2) What kind of medical treatment do you want or don't want?

(3) How comfortable you want to be?

(4) How do you want people to treat you?

(5) What would you want your loved ones to know about your health condition?

A written Advanced Health Care Directive by itself does not ensure that your wishes will be understood and respected. Studies have shown that standard advance directive forms do little to influence end-of-life decisions without: (a) informed, thoughtful reflection about your wishes and values, and (b) communication between you and your likely or selected decision-makers before a situation occurs.

It is an excellent idea for those executing Advance Health Care Directives to speak openly and honestly with the person or persons they designate and go through the different situations that might come up. While no one can anticipate every medical situation, a thoughtful and reasoned discussion can cover the more likely scenarios.

The Wall Street Journal article can be found at:

Posted by Henry Moravec, III. Any questions or comments should be directed to: hm@moravecslaw.com or (626) 793-3210. The firm website is http://www.moravecslaw.com/