It has been a common belief that an advance directive is just for the sick and the old. But you know what? Even the healthiest people need one. Read on to learn why.
What is an Advanced Healthcare Directive?
An advance healthcare directive is a legal document drafted by an attorney that specifies instructions on what actions should be taken with regards to a person’s health in an unfortunate event that he or she is no longer able to make decisions on their own due to severe illness or incapacity. This was created in response to the continuous improvement of medical technology, as it had been observed that there are critical deficits in the medical care of severely ill people. The most common example of these deficits is that the medical care of these persons are unnecessarily prolonged due to the fact that there are no clear instructions on who should make the decisions for them.
With an Advance directive, you will be able to designate a family member or a friend whom you trust who will then be the one to make healthcare decisions for you – should you be incapacitated and totally unable to do so. This may be temporary or permanent depending on your actual medical condition.
Advanced Directive for Healthcare vs. Living Will
A living will is another type of advance directive and is often confused with advanced directive for healthcare. However, it’s important that you clearly understand what the difference of this two is, as a living will can be downright dangerous.
A living will, also referred to as a “directive” or “declaration”, gives an unknown physician a power over your life and death. You wouldn’t want an unknown person, even a doctor, to take full control of how you will be treated without consent from a family member or a trusted friend, right?
Why get an advance healthcare directive for yourself?
As mentioned above, people believe that if your young and healthy, an advance directive is not needed. But this is absolutely wrong. Anyone who is 18 years old and older, should have this document. Why? Simple – in an unfortunate event that you became incapacitated, would you want just anyone to decide on how you will be treated? I bet not, right? You would prefer that someone you fully trust would hold the power to ensure you will get the right medical care to help you get a full recovery. And this is what an advance healthcare directive is all about.
Not only should you get one drafted for you, but it’s important to keep yours on your person at all times. That way, if you’re in a severe accident or injury, medical doctors will not be left guessing what your wishes are.
Some states in the US have laws covering patients who hadn’t designated someone to make healthcare decisions for them. These laws contain a “priority listing” of people who can make the decisions for the patient. However, there are some states where the decisions are limited to withholding or withdrawing the treatment. And what does it mean for the patient? It doesn’t give the necessary authority to protect the patient. In cases where there are conflicts among those on the “priority list”, the power or authority to decide for the patients is given to the doctors.
With all the above, would you get an advance directive for healthcare? Because I certainly would.