What happens when you become incapacitated and cannot make medical decisions? Have you prepared an advance directive that clearly states your wishes or have you decided to roll the dice and allow someone else to decide your medical fate?
Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes recognizes the inalienable right of a competent adult to create an advance directive that defines what type of medical care a physician can administer in the case of incapacitation.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive represents a legally binding oral or written statement that clearly defines all of the medical decisions you want to make, if it is impossible for you to convey the wishes. Some people wait until they receive a terminal illness diagnosis, while other people state their medical wishes as an integral part of estate planning when they are fully healthy.
You have three types of advance directives that help you communicate your medical wishes:
- Living will
- Anatomical donation(s)
- Designation of health care surrogate
A living will provides the most comprehensive way to ensure family members and health care practitioners honor your medical requests. You describe the treatments you want performed, as well as potentially exercise your right to refuse any type of medical care.
Six Considerations You Need to Know about Drafting an Advance Directive
The state of Florida explicitly states what you must include in an advance directive for it to be enforceable but even after satisfying all of the legal requirements, you should follow these six tips to ensure health care professionals adhere to your medical wishes.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
One of the most important legal issues to resolve when drafting an advance directive is the naming of the person you want to make health decisions for you. Be sure that the individual is well aware of their status as your potential surrogate, that they understand your wishes, and that there is clear documentation readily available when the time comes to prove their status to they can effectively fulfill their duties without difficulty. After creating the power of attorney for health care, you have several additional factors to consider, before producing a highly effective advance directive.
Learn about Life Saving Medical Procedures
You can’t expect to draft a legally sound advance directive if you have not educated yourself about various life saving treatments and procedures. Procedures such as drug treatments and resuscitation after a seizure are two of the most common medical care issues to learn. You should think through various potential scenarios and reflect on your wishes with regard to life-saving care.
Add an Advance Directive to Your Medical Records
Make sure your physician adds the advance directive to your medical record. Your medical record should not only state that you have drafted an advance directive, but also where your health care proxy can find a copy. You may also want to keep a note on your person, such as in your wallet, stating you have an advance directive and where it can be found.
Communicate with Friends, Family Members, and Doctors
If you become incapacitated and you have not discussed your advance directive with anyone, you might as well as not have taken the time to draft it at all. Tell your friends and family members the why and how of your decision to draft an advance directive. Inform your team of doctors to ensure you receive appropriate treatment.
Make it Easy to Locate
Your advanced directive must be easy to find. Whether you keep a copy in a file cabinet at work or give one to a trusted family member to store in a high-traffic area at home, the point is to have someone retrieve the advance directive immediately after you suffer a life threatening medical condition.
Remember to update the advance directive at least once per year. Over the course of a year, a medical ailment might surface that requires you to amend your advance directive. You also might change your perception about end of life care over the course of a year.
Making end of life medical decisions should never be left up to complete strangers. You have to closely abide by Florida legal mandates, as well as follow a few tips that help you draft a legally binding advance directive. If you want to draft an advanced directive, contract the team of family law attorneys at Vasquez de Lara Law Group to help guide you through this legally complex and sometimes emotionally draining process.