How do you want to die? Do you want lifesaving treatments to be administered even if all brain activity has ceased? Is your family aware of your wishes? And perhaps the more important question, according to the NY Times, is your Doctor aware of your wishes?
Included in the complete estate plan our firm provides for our clients is an Advance Healthcare Directive nominating a health care agent and stating the client’s wishes for end of life decisions and treatment. This document is clear and comprehensive; yet according to Jane Brody’s NY Times article doctors and emergency technicians still have a difficult time withholding life-saving treatments, even if administering them goes expressly against a patient’s clear wishes to the contrary.
What Jane Brody’s article makes clear is that signing an Advance Healthcare Directive is no longer enough. To truly be sure your wishes will be followed you need to include your family and your Doctor in your decision-making process, even to the extent that your agent and your Doctor sign a statement to the effect that they have reviewed and agree to follow your wishes.
Don’t be one of the growing numbers of people whose wishes for end of life treatment are ignored. Bring your healthcare directive to your next doctor’s appointment to review with your physician. And ask your attorney and physician about the newly authorized “Physician Order For Life Sustaining Treatment” (“POLST”), to bolster your estate planning documents and ensure that your wishes are recognized.