LIFE PLAN BASICS IV - BACK OFF! I'M NOT DEAD YET!
Imagine yourself in Intensive care unit, tubes coming out of all the openings of your body, surrounded by family members and friends. The doctor wants to make an important decision about your treatment. You are disabled, your spouse does not know what to do, your children do not agree among themselves, relatives dare not decide and doctors are waiting. Only if you had given direction in advance! It be incumbent upon you to draw up such a document.
Unless a person has an "advance directive", many health care providers and institutions will make critical decisions for him/her or a court may appoint a guardian who is unfamiliar with the person's values and wishes. Of U.S. deaths, 25%-55% occur in health care facilities.Numerous studies have documented critical deficits in the medical care of the dying; it has been found to be unnecessarily prolonged, painful,
WHAT IS ADVANCED DIRECTIVE? An advance directive is a document by which a person makes provision for health care decisions in the event that, in the future, he/she becomes unable to make those decisions. Islamic sheria laws must be strictly incorporated in this document.
WHAT DOES IT CONTAIN? Basically it has two parts: Living will and Power of attorney for health care.
- Living will: It allows you to tell the doctor what your medical treatment preferences would be in the event you are terminally ill. A Living Will allows you to refuse treatment or machines which keep your heart, lungs or kidneys functioning when they are unable to function on their own. You can relate your choices about feeding tubes and other life sustaining procedures in this document.
- Power of Attorney for Health care: The Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document in which you appoint another person (a "healthcare agent", it may be your spouse, son or daughter or anybody you wish to appoint) to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are not capable of making them for yourself.
What is the difference between a Living Will and Power of Attorney for Health Care? A Living Will goes into effect only when your death is very near or when you are in a persistent vegetative state and have no cognitive abilities to make medical decisions. It deals only with the use or non-use of life sustaining measures.
A Power of Attorney for Health Care also goes into effect when you can no longer make healthcare decisions (incapacitated) but you do not have to be close to death or in a vegetative state. The Power of Attorney for Health Care allows another person to speak for you and make healthcare decisions for you that are not limited to life-sustaining measures. The type of decisions this person can make depends upon the extent of authority you give when you prepare the document.
Who can make an Advance directive? Anybody over the age of 18 and of sound mind can make an Advanced directive.
Where can I get this directives? You can obtain it from your doctor, lawyer, clinic, or internet.
Do I need a lawyer to draw up the Directives? No, you need two witnesses to sign.
Where should I keep the directives? You should keep your advance directive in a readily accessible place where family/friends can locate it. You should make sure your family members, physician and your lawyer, if you have one, know you have made an advance directive and know where it is located. Bring a copy of this document when you are hospitalized.
What if I change my mind? You can cancel or replace a Living Will or a Power of Attorney for Health Care at any time.