If you become incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself, it can be difficult for your physician and family to follow your wishes without proper legal documents. Advanced Directives (health care proxy and living will) mitigate this issue by your designation of a health care agent to make decisions for you relating to your health care and life sustaining treatment in the event you are unable to
When is a Health Care Proxy and Living Will Needed?
A Health Care Proxy designates the agent whom you choose to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you cannot. A living will is a document that guides your physician, hospital staff, and family as to your wishes regarding life sustaining treatment in the event you are terminally ill with no hope for recovery.
Who Should be Your Proxy?
Choosing your agent is important in ensuring that your wishes are best met. Your health care agent should be someone you trust such as a close family member or a very good friend who knows you well enough to feel comfortable making medical decisions in your stead. You should ask your proposed agent before designating them to be your health care agent. Explain to them your wishes and make sure they are confident in their ability to carry them out. Before a health care agent takes over for you, the physician must first determine you are unable to decide for yourself, or able to communicate properly. If you regain consciousness or the ability to make decisions yourself, then you will resume making your own health care decisions.
Choices to make in the living will, and by your health care agent, can include end of life decisions. These include direction as to CPR, artificial nutrition and hydration and other life sustaining treatment.
DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and DNI (Do Not Intubate) orders are not covered under the living will document and are issued directly from your physician.
Intubation is the insertion of a tube into your mouth or nose to assist with breathing. A DNI does not cancel out a DNR order. You can have one, both or none of them. A DNI order simply states that you do not want a tube inserted into your throat.
Artificial nutrition and hydration is a form of life support given when a patient can no longer take food and drink orally. This is used when a patient enters a comatose state or if serious and life-threatening illness is preventing the body’s ability to consume food normally.
EMT’s and First Responders
Emergency Medical Technicians and other first responders cannot honor DNR orders or the living will. Once EMT’s are called upon, they must stabilize a patient and transfer them to a hospital. The physician at the hospital can evaluate your condition and look at any Advanced Directives that are in place.
For more than 40 years, our firm has been assisting people like you with long term care and estate planning needs. We bring you the knowledge and resources to protect you and your family. Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC does not provide tax, legal, medical or accounting advice by articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal, medical, or accounting advice. Call 718.477.7700 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning attorney at Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC. We proudly serve Staten Island, Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City.