Your right to decide what happens to your body in a health crisis is paramount. Sometimes, a health crisis can incapacitate you and render you unable to tell healthcare providers what treatments you want them to administer. This is why advanced directives exist. What is an advanced directive? It is a legal document that obligates a healthcare provider to take certain precautions or consult with a patient’s trusted representative when a patient cannot speak for themselves and needs treatment.
An advanced directive can be as simple or detailed as you like, but ensuring your healthcare wishes are respected is a complex undertaking best handled by an experienced attorney. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., provides award-winning legal services to individuals who need help with advanced directives and estate planning. We approach each case with diligence and compassion. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
What Do Advanced Directives Cover?
The purpose of an advanced directive is to tell your doctor or healthcare provider what actions to take (or not) when you have a medical emergency. In an advanced directive, you can tell your provider to do or not do the following:
- Conduct life-saving procedures,
- Perform surgery,
- Administer medications,
- Donate your organs, or
- Consult with a chosen representative.
These aren’t the only terms you can include in an advanced directive—they’re only examples of your options. As mentioned above, this document can be as detailed as you want. Our knowledgeable legal team at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., can help you draft a comprehensive and enforceable directive that addresses your unique needs.
What Are the Types of Advanced Directives I Can Have?
Advanced directives are customizable, and there are different kinds you can use to protect your wishes. The different types of legal documents you can use as an advanced directive include the following.
A living will is an instrument that allows you to give instructions about the healthcare or end-of-life care you do or don’t want when you are incapacitated. You cannot use a living will to name a health care agent (there is another document for that, and we discuss it below).
A living will is effective only when you have an incurable condition that your doctor has confirmed, and you cannot make decisions for yourself. Your living will is valid only when the person who presents it has clear and convincing evidence that the document reflects your wishes.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders
A do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order tells healthcare providers not to perform CPR or other procedures to restart your heart or breathing to save your life. You can give these orders verbally or in writing. Also, there are hospital DNR orders and non-hospital DNR orders.
A hospital DNR order is reserved for when you are in a healthcare facility. This document to facility personnel and emergency personnel who make transfers. If you give verbal consent for this type of order, two adults must witness your consent, and one of the adults must be a doctor at the facility. If you give written consent for this type of order, two adult witnesses must sign it.
When you are not receiving treatment in a facility, you must make your DNR wishes known on New York State Department of Health form 3474. A doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant must sign form 3474, and determine every 90 days or less whether your DNR order is still appropriate.
Health Care Proxy
Sometimes, your opinions on different medical interventions can change, and you might not have time to effectively update a DNR or living will before a medical issue arises. In these cases, a health care proxy can give you some flexibility. Your discussions with the agent named in your proxy could prevent a healthcare provider from intervening in ways you don’t want.
A health care proxy lets you choose a health care agent who can make decisions about your treatment (including life-saving treatment) when you can’t. However, your health care agent does not have the authority to make decisions for you unless your doctor concludes that you don’t have the capacity to make healthcare decisions for yourself. Also, your health care agent can’t refuse a feeding tube or an intravenous line to give you hydration unless they reasonably know your wishes about these types of treatment.
You must fill out a health care proxy form to name your agent. Among other information, you need to provide your personal information, the date, your signature, and the signatures of two adult witnesses on this form. If you don’t want your health care proxy to last indefinitely, you must include a condition for expiration or an expiration date on it. We can help ensure that your health care proxy adequately covers all your needs and is no more or less restrictive than necessary.
Protect Your Health and Peace of Mind by Calling Us
You should retain the right to make choices about your own life, even when you can’t communicate your choices to others. At the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., we have the experience, skill, and passion to protect your rights in a crisis. Andrew M. Lamkin has received top honors from the legal community, and he is a leader in educating civic and non-profit organizations about advanced directives, asset protection, estate tax liability, veterans benefits, and special needs planning.
If you are concerned about your options in a time of need, give Andrew M. Lamkin a call. You can reach our law office by phone or by contacting us online.