Understanding Your Medical Advance Directives From Austin Estate Planning Lawyer Liz Nielsen

Understanding Your Medical Advanced Directives

Anytime you need to go to the hospital, whether it’s for a broken bone, birth of a new baby, or surgery, there are a few documents they will request from you. Sometimes these forms can be completed by you at the hospital. However, what happens if you need medical assistance and you are incapacitated or unconscious? There are three types of these medical forms, also known as Advance Directives, which you may wish to complete in “advance” of need and which “direct” others as to your wishes.

Medical Power of Attorney

The Medical Power of Attorney allows you to designate a person to make your medical decisions on your behalf if a doctor states that you are unable to make them yourself due to incapacity or unconsciousness. The person designated should be someone you know and trust, and someone with whom you have previously discussed decisions you might make in certain circumstances. Your doctors will then look to this person for permission and decisions regarding any medical procedures or providence.

Directive to Physicians, Family or Surrogates

The Directive to Physicians, Family or Surrogates is also known as your “Living Will”. This Advance Directive allows you to express your wishes in certain end of life situations. These end of life situations are terminal or irreversible where life sustaining procedures and treatments would need to be used to keep you alive. The most notable case for this form is the story of Terri Schiavo. Her husband did not want to provide continued life sustaining treatment, while her parents did. If Terri had signed a Directive to Physicians, Family or Surrogates in advance letting everyone know how she would have wanted to proceed, the situation would have been kept out of the courts and the family could have avoided the drama.

Out-Of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR)

The DNR form instructs medical personnel whether or not to resuscitate you. Resuscitation includes, but is not limited to; CPR, artificial ventilation, defibrillation, and transcutaneous cardiac pacing. In short, anything that will get your heart beating and you breathing again. This form would be used if you were to suffer a heart attack and an ambulance arrives. If you have a signed DNR, the emergency medical technicians will not perform any medical procedures in order to revive you at your home.  This form is typically completed after lengthy discussions with your physician, and the decision to sign a DNR should not be taken lightly.

Although difficult to think about, everyone will likely need to use at least one of these Advance Directives in their lifetimes. They are important in letting the doctors know which kind of treatments you would prefer. They are also very important in alleviating your loved-ones from having to make tough decisions. When preparing your estate plan an attorney will ensure that your advance directives are completed correctly and accurately reflect your wishes.

Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area.  For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.