Healthcare Decisions: Q & A

April 21st, 2016

Healthcare decisions always seem too early, until it’s too late. At SIH, we understand the importance for your voice to be heard. Helping you complete advance directives earlier, gives you the opportunity to tell your loved ones what you would want in a serious health crisis.

Why should people care? Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), restrictions on medical information can be hard to understand. While privacy is extremely important, it can also make it difficult for your loved ones to assist with your medical care. With a Healthcare Power of Attorney, at minimum, plus an Advance Directive, you give your loved ones the opportunity to assist with medical decisions. But, more importantly, you are providing the information for your wishes to be heard.

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney? It is a written document that you sign. You designate someone as your attorney-in-fact. This person is able to make healthcare decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so for yourself. Your ability to make decisions for yourself is determined by your physician who reports to your POA-HC that you are incapacitated and unable to make sound decisions for yourself.

The other good thing is the POA-HC allows you to choose how much treatment you want. Do you want artificial nutrition? Do you want to be intubated? Do you want to allow the disease progression to happen naturally if you are brain dead? All are things to consider.

What is a Living Will? This document states you do not wish to have heroic measures if you have a terminal condition.

What are these heroic or death-delaying procedures? They are procedures that postpone death. Assisted ventilation, CPR, medication, blood transfusions, tube feedings, artificial kidney treatments are all procedures that may be used to lengthen your life and delay your death.

What is a DNR/POLST? A DNR/POLST is similar to the Living Will. It does not appoint someone to make decisions and applies if you do not have a condition that is terminal, but clarifies what you want to have done in a critical medical event. Do you want CPR if you have no pulse and are not breathing? If you have a pulse and are breathing, do you want everything done, select treatment done, or comfort-focused care only? Do you want medically administered nutrition?

What are 5 Wishes?It is a detailed living will that discusses what you want for personal, emotional, and spiritual needs. It also discusses what you want medically in a variety of situations.

The forms mentioned above are available here.