What kind of medical care would you want if you were too sick or injured to express your desires? Living wills are legal documents that allow you to outline your decisions about end-of-life care in advance. They give you the opportunity to communicate your wishes to your family, friends and healthcare professionals and avoid confusion later. Living wills apply only to decisions in the health sector and do not affect financial or financial matters. The laws surrounding living wills vary from state to state. Talk to your doctor (or lawyer) about filling out your living will if you`re still healthy, in case you get too sick or can`t make medical decisions for yourself in the future. It is important to choose a person to act as a health worker. Even if you have other legal documents regarding your care, not all situations can be predicted, and some situations require someone to make a judgment about your likely care needs. You should choose someone who meets the following criteria: Living wills, whether oral or written, advisory or a formal legal document, are tools that give patients of all ages and health conditions the opportunity to express their values, goals of care and treatment preferences to guide future health care decisions. Living wills also allow patients to identify who they want to decide on their behalf if they can`t do it themselves. They allow physicians and surrogate mothers to make good faith efforts, respect the patient`s goals, and implement the patient`s preferences when the patient has no decision-making ability. Start by thinking about the type of treatment you want or don`t want to take in a medical emergency.
It might be helpful to talk to your doctor about how your current health condition might affect your health in the future. For example, what decisions would you or your family make if your high blood pressure led to a stroke? You can ask your doctor to help you understand and reflect on your decisions before writing them down. Discussing preventive planning decisions with your doctor is free via Medicare during your annual wellness visit. Private health insurance can also cover these conversations. In some states, advance health care planning includes a document called Doctors` Prescriptions for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). The document can also be called Life Support Provider Orders (POLST) or Medical Orders for Life Support Treatments (MOLST). All health care workers, whether physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurses, social workers/counsellors, chaplains or others; should make it a habit to regularly discuss living wills with patients. These disciplines bring a variety of skills that together can lead to better results. The discussion should be conducted well before an acute illness, which usually leads to conflicts and ambiguities.
Many medical and surgical societies recommend discussions about living wills and goals of care in various guidelines for clinical practice. There is a low prevalence of DNR prescriptions and/or living wills in patients with stage IV cancer despite an overall poor prognosis; As a result, oncology specialists and palliative care services play some role in driving these conversations. To avoid unnecessary or unwanted medical treatment and increased health care costs, living wills should be listed on the table upon admission.     For some people, the most important thing is to stay alive as long as medically possible or long enough to see an important event like a grandchild`s wedding. A living will can help make this possible. Others have a clear idea of when they no longer want to prolong their lives. Here too, a living will can help. You may want to create a card that you can carry in your wallet indicating that you have a living will and where it is kept. Here is an example of the wallet card offered by the American Hospital Association. You may want to print it out to fill in and take with you. A PDF can be found online (PDF, 40 KB).
What if you don`t have a living will or haven`t made plans and are no longer able to speak for yourself? In such cases, the state in which you live will hire someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. It will likely be your spouse, your parents if they are available, or your children when they are adults. If you don`t have family members, the state will choose someone to represent your best interests. On this site, you can learn about the five wishes and purchase the Planning Guide, which is available in 26 languages and Braille. Organ and tissue donations are used to transplant organs or body parts from a generally healthy person who has died into people who need them. Usually, the heart, lungs, pancreas, kidneys, cornea, liver and skin are donated. There is no age limit for organ and tissue donation. You can have a donation card in your wallet. In some states, you can add this decision to your driver`s license. Some people also include organ donation in their planning documents for preventive care. The POLST form is a new living will.
It exists as an agreement between the doctor and the patient about their condition. It summarizes the patient`s wishes and records them in the form of medical prescriptions. In states that recognize the POLST form, medical prescriptions carry the entire health care system in all settings, including the preclinical setting.