Being healthy is truly a blessing. Yet, as unpredictable as life is, one should always have different legal tools in place to guarantee his/her wishes will be properly carried out in the event of incapacitation or severe medical condition.
In this sense, advance directives are valuable documents that permit you to express your wishes regarding medical treatment. Keep reading to find out what advance directives are and the different types you can use to prepare for unexpected situations.
What Are Advance Directives in Florida? – Understanding the Concept
Advance directives are legal documents wherein you outline your choices regarding health care decisions, such as determining which medical treatments you should or should not undergo upon incapacitation, appointing someone to handle your medical affairs, etc.
Essentially, the purpose of an advance directive is to ensure your medical decisions will be carried out as you wanted, regardless of incapacity, unconsciousness, or any event that affects your ability to decide on your own.
Upon executing an advance directive, it is crucial to keep the original copy of the document(s) in a safe place and also distribute some copies to your most trusted loved ones. Another good practice is letting your physicians and doctors know you have such documents in place.
Different Types of Advance Directives in Florida – The Essentials
A living will is a legal document used to specify your preferences regarding life-extending care and end-of-life care, especially in the event of a terminal or end-stage medical condition.
Generally, living wills are effective only if the person who created the document is still alive but completely unable to communicate. Accordingly, a well-drafted living will should indicate which treatments you prefer if you ever are in an end-stage condition or persistent vegetative state, such as:
- Pain management medication
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
- Mechanical Ventilation
- Tube feeding
- Antiviral medications
- Palliative care (or comfort care)
- Organ, tissue, and body donations
Having a living will in place amid an extreme health situation relieves your loved ones from the overwhelming stress associated with determining whether they should apply, continue or end life-sustaining treatments.
Health Care Surrogate Designation
A health care surrogate designation is a legal document that permits you (the principal) to designate a third party (the agent) to handle your medical decision-making if you are unable to decide on your own.
This legal tool applies either in cases of incapacitation or if the principal cannot express his/her wishes for medical treatment.
Accordingly, it may not apply only in cases of permanent incapacity, but also in temporary situations, such as a person that is undergoing post-surgery recovery under heavy pain medication.
Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), an individual’s confidential medical information is privileged. Hence, a health care surrogate designation must contain specific language granting the agent authority to receive your medical information.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders
The Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNRO) is a legal document explicitly requesting no resuscitation techniques must be used if you suffer from a cardiac or respiratory arrest. This type of advance directive must be signed by you (or your health care surrogate, if applicable) and your physician.
In the event of a cardiac or respiratory arrest, emergency medical technicians are duty-bound to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) unless they actually have this document in hand.