Anyone could become incapacitated and end up in a situation that they can no longer make health decisions for themselves. This could be due to anything from unconsciousness during a health emergency to temporary disabilities. When the person is a minor, legal guardians make the necessary decisions, but after adulthood, it becomes more difficult for someone to obtain that right. Working with a Palm Desert civil litigation attorney can ensure that should you ever find yourself in this position, only the person you choose can make health care decisions on your behalf.
What Are the Provisions of Medical Directives?
Also known as a living will, California medical directives are made up of several pieces that work together to ensure you get the medical treatment you deserve, no matter what. Your Bochnewich Law Offices attorney can work with you to determine which of the following provisions best suit your specific needs and preferences.
Health Care Proxy
Your medical directives can appoint a specific person to make decisions about health care on your behalf. The document is sometimes referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care. The person appointed may also become known as your health care proxy. Other common names include patient advocate, health care representative and health care agent.
Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment
This portion of your California medical directives can also be known as medical orders for life-sustaining treatment or provider orders for life-sustaining treatment. If you develop a chronic illness that threatens your life, it dictates what treatments your doctor may or may not use. This document is so important that it is usually posted near your bedside as a reminder while you are hospitalized.
Do Not Resuscitate and Do Not Intubate Orders
These are two separate orders, but they usually work hand in hand. As the name implies, the DNR order prevents health care professionals from legally attempting to revive you if you pass away. DNI orders prevent health care providers from inserting a tube for breathing, feeding or other medical reasons.
Who Can You Choose as a Health Care Proxy?
When choosing a health care proxy, it is important to appoint someone who is able to act decisively under pressure. The person should be familiar with your preferences and be willing to uphold your preferences even when disagreeing with them. It is also a good idea not to appoint someone who could benefit financially from your death or disability.
California allows you to choose virtually any adult member of your family as a health care proxy, as long as they are of sound mind. This includes your spouse, your parent(s) or even adult children. You are also free to choose a trusted friend.
California prohibits you from choosing your doctor as your health care proxy due to conflicts of interest and other reasons. Individuals who operate a facility in which you receive care cannot act as your health care proxy unless they fall into one of the following exceptions:
- Blood relative
- Adoptive family member
- Family member by marriage
It is legal to choose multiple people as health care proxies, but this may defeat the purpose if they cannot agree on treatment options. In most instances, it is better to choose just one health care proxy.
You may then decide to name alternative options in a ranked order. Should your health care proxy also become incapacitated, such as in a car accident where you drove together, your doctors will have a list of other eligible people to work through.
When Should I Update Medical Directives?
As you progress through life, your health status, beliefs and relationships may change. When this happens, you may need to update your medical directives to ensure the documents reflect your current priorities. Here are some specific instances when you should seek out a Palm Desert lawyer to update your medical directives.
Key relationship changes to keep in mind include getting married, getting divorced, becoming estranged from certain blood relatives or even your children finally entering adulthood. All of these can create situations where you may need to change the person appointed as your health care proxy or you may no longer want to be resuscitated at any cost.
If you created your first Palm Desert medical directives while you were still healthy but later face a life-threatening diagnosis, you may want to review and update your documents. Similarly, if your health improves, you may have a change of heart about how to handle your medical emergencies. Note that medical directives can form part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Beliefs and Preferences
As you grow older, you may come across new information, go through new experiences or develop beliefs that make it necessary to change your old directives. For instance, in some Christian denominations and religions, blood transfusion is not permissible. If you need to make these or other uncommon restrictions, speak to an attorney about how to proceed.
MayoClinic recommends reviewing your medical directives every 10 years. You may find that your existing orders still work just fine, but if they do not, you can quickly begin the process of changing things. Remember that by the time you need medical directives to become active, it is too late for you to change anything, so keep them current.
Who Do I Need To Hire for Medical Directives?
Not surprisingly, the intersection of medicine and law is a complex area that requires professional oversight. Because of this, when creating your medical directives, you may need to speak to two main professionals: your doctor and your Palm Desert attorney. If you are religious and believe your religion could dictate some of the medical treatment you are eligible for, then you may also need to involve your religious leader in the process to ensure you make the right decisions.
Our Bochnewich Law Offices will review your current medical history, religious concerns, personal preferences or any other information you would like to submit. We can then move forward with creating documents that increase the likelihood of your health care wishes being respected even when you cannot actively participate in the decision-making process. Contact us today to get started.