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What is a Health Care Directive?

What is a Health Care Directive?

Health care directives are legal documents that outlines an individual’s preferences regarding medical treatment in case they become incapable of communicating their wishes directly. Such directives may contain instructions about which life-sustaining therapies they would like or reject and designate a representative to communicate on their behalf; state laws regarding advance directives vary accordingly.

Your clients must have documents in place should they become incapacitated due to illness or injury and be unable to make decisions for themselves, helping avoid court-appointed guardianship issues in the future. These documents could save loved ones time and trouble in dealing with court-appointed guardianship proceedings or legal battles in future years.

Document preparation does not have to involve legal services alone; an attorney can offer guidance and assist in filling out forms. A client may also seek the services of social workers, chaplains or other professionals as needed – many hospitals also employ trained individuals who can assist individuals in creating advance directives.

The main types of advance directives include living wills, durable powers of attorney for health care and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders. Living wills (or instruction directives) inform medical professionals what kind of treatment the client wants should they become incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes for themselves; aggressive interventions like CPR and mechanical ventilation may be included while more moderate measures such as intravenous fluids feeding tubes and antibiotics could also be added.

Health care power of attorney or proxy documents provide clients with more extensive control over all aspects of their health care, not only end-of-life decisions. A health care power of attorney usually goes into effect once an individual fulfills certain medical criteria and cannot make decisions for themselves.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment or MOLST is another advanced directive option, offering immediate actionable medical orders that can be implemented immediately in an emergency situation. These forms are portable across healthcare settings – even prehospital settings – and often provide more specific choices such as resuscitation or comfort care, along with including preferences regarding life-sustaining therapies and therapies.

Documents can give your clients peace of mind, helping their loved ones navigate any potential confusion if they become incapacitated or unconscious. Although these documents are non-legally binding and do not guarantee that your clients’ wishes will always be carried out, so it’s vitally important that you discuss their preferences before creating these documents with them.

As soon as your clients are healthy and capable of clearly communicating their wishes, the ideal time to start discussing this is before any need arises and share their plans with loved ones. Review these documents periodically or whenever there is any significant change to a client’s health or lifestyle.

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