Who Knows Your Medical Wishes?
National Healthcare Decisions Day is on April 16th, and it’s an important reminder for every adult to let someone know their most private wishes about medical treatments and possible end-of-life care.
Far too many people assume that their families would make the choices they would want in an emergency. Yet everyday we hear stories of adult children, siblings or other relatives battling during a health care crisis over “what their loved one would have wanted” in that situation.
The Terry Schiavo case is a great example of this. At the young age of 26, Shiavo suffered sudden cardiac arrest and slipped into a permanent a vegetative state. She never documented her wishes about things like feeding tubes, life support and long-term quality of life, leaving her family to battle for years over these questions in court.
Her husband eventually had her feeding tube removed claiming, “That’s what she would have wanted”. But was it really? We’ll never know because Terry didn’t make her healthcare wishes known to her closest family and friends.
But it’s not enough to just tell someone about your wishes. You need to clearly document your preferences, too. Remember, emotions can run high during a health care crisis, and it might be hard for your loved ones to stop life support when they desperately want you around. Having your wishes spelled out in writing helps make these types of decisions easier for your loved ones, especially in cases when other family members don’t agree.
So in honor of National Health Care Decisions Day, I encourage you to start tough conversations with loved ones about your personal medical preferences for medical or long-term care. Here are some important questions to consider:
· What are your thoughts on feeding tubes, life support and other artificial life saving devices?
· Is there any type of medical care you would NEVER want?
· If you were permanently disabled or incapacitated, what things would contribute or take away from your “quality of life”?
· Who do you trust to make important medical decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself?
· What are your thoughts on nursing home vs. in-home health care? Who would you trust to manage your long-term care?
These are not the most fun conversations to have, but they will help to ensure that your most personal wishes are honored in a true medical emergency. Talk them over with loved ones and get something in writing that spells out your wishes and the care you want if something happens to you. If you have questions, talk to us and get your health care proxy done NOW before an unforeseen emergency strikes.
And if you have been procrastinating, The Powers Law Firm is offering FREE health care proxies at our office at 120 Allens Creek Road, Rochester, NY 14618 on April 16th from 9am to 5pm. No appointment is needed!
Under the new Obama health care law changes routine screenings are supposed to be free, but patients must educate themselves as to what is free (a "screening") and what is subject to a charge (a "diagnostic procedure"). The problem is that a routine screening can become a diagnostic procedure midstream, while the patient is sedated. Pretty hard to discuss with the doctor if you want them to continue with that procedure when you're unconscious. This article posted earlier today details the exact problem for a 61-year old business owner who went from having a free colonoscopy as recommended to paying an $1,100 fee for having two polyps removed. Bottom line (no pun intended) is to TALK to your insurer prior to any procedure and understand what it COULD cost you. Never assume.