Advance Directives are legal documents that provide a means to a physician to order treatment for a patient that is ill, incapacitated or suffering from an irreversible disease. Such directives are often used when patients are in the midst of treatment to ensure that treatment is ongoing. This documentation is also used when a patient's death is impending and wishes to have their remains buried. This article will cover some basic information about Advance Directives.
There are two basic types of DRPs, i.e. DNR or "do not resuscitate order." A non-life-sustaining order can be filed by a physician and signed by the patient. This type of order is effective for a specific period of time, depending on state laws.
If a patient is near or terminally ill, they may petition a court for a DNR. The document should be filed with the courts immediately upon the diagnosis or death of the patient. In the case of life-sustaining treatments, a physician should file this form with the courts as soon as possible.
If a physician orders a DNR, it is best to submit the document to the estate plan administrator or court-appointed legal representative before the patient dies or is domiciled. In addition, if the patient is not ill or incapacitated, then the physician may choose not to fill out the form. In this case, the physician should give reasons why he or she has chosen not to fill the order. In either case, if the patient's will is being contested, a Power of Attorney may be needed.
A Power of Attorney allows a health care provider to act on the patient's behalf, but it does not grant the physician the right to do so. If the physician does not fill out and file the DNR, then it becomes irreparably ineffective. A Power of Attorney can also be revoked at any time, by filing a letter to the court stating that the patient is suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia, or another debilitating condition that impedes one's ability to make sound medical decisions. A person can revoke a Power of Attorney at any time. It must be done within two years of the date that the Power of Attorney was granted. Once a Power of Attorney is revoked, the physician must renew the document with the courts. A patient can change their mind, change addresses or change doctor appointments at any time without having to reapply for a Power of Attorney.
An Advance Directive can be used to appoint another person to make medical decisions for the patient, should the patient become incapable of doing so. This would include but is not limited to people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. They would be appointed solely on the patient's instructions. Once an Advanced Directive has been established, the person who is designated to be the "designee" of the document will take over all responsibilities and duties relating to the person. The primary duty of this person would be to execute the document according to what the patient has signed. They will not be involved in the process of making medical decisions for the patient, nor will they have the power to decide what type of healthcare they would like for the patient.
When deciding if you need a Power of Attorney or not, you should consider if you have a clear mental competency to make medical decisions. If you have suffered an injury or illness that makes it impossible for you to engage in informed decision-making, then you should definitely consider getting a health-care Power of Attorney. In many cases, once the Power of Attorney has been granted, it remains effective until the end of your life.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.