With all the talk in Washington about Healthcare reform, I started thinking about what practical things we could do to ensure that we are protecting ourselves and the ones we love. It seems that we all put off the need to prepare or update our will or trust. However when a crisis occurs it is often too late to make last minute updates and you wish that you hadn't procrastinated so much.
Consider this very common scenario - It's 8 pm and the pain in your chest is still there. You finally admit to your loved one that maybe it's time to go to the hospital. You can see their worry as they grab the car keys and hurry you out the door to the emergency room...
Let's face it, going to the hospital can be extremely frightening and the last thing you are thinking about is do I have all the legal documents I need. On the contrary all you are thinking about is, "Why do I feel this way and what is going on?" Here is the good news; with a little bit of preparation you can make the experience better for everyone, especially: you, your family, and the hospital staff
Make sure that you have a healthcare power of attorney and that it is up-to-date with the proper HIPPA language and appointed agents. This document names the person (or persons) you would like to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. Review this document periodically to make sure your choice(s) is still valid. Additionally, we can prepare your loved ones with your desires regarding treatments you would (or would not) want to receive in the hospital.
Make your decision about organ donation and properly document it. If you would like to donate your organs at the time of your passing, make that decision now and put it in writing. One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and the need far exceeds the supply. The more your loved ones know in advance, the easier it will be for them if they ever have to step in.
Do you have a DocuBank card? Carry your DocuBank wallet card. Our firm provides this card because we know that immediate access to your emergency information and healthcare directives is important. Make sure that your card is next to your driver's license in your wallet at all times. Having my DocuBank card permits my loved ones to instantly provide the hospital with all of my legal health care documents. It also contains all of my prescriptions, allergies and emergency phone numbers.
When you are at the hospital filling out the paperwork and answering questions is not what's on your mind. To the contrary, you have questions and you want answers. But reality is that the ER staff will ask you many questions. One of them is whether you have a healthcare directive (they may call it an "advance directive"), we call them healthcare power of attorney. When you present your DocuBank card the hospital staff can make immediate note of the allergies and medical conditions on your card. They then use the card to obtain your directives, adding them to your chart immediately. There is no anxiety about where your documents are located and having to go back home or to the bank safety deposit box, to get it. Your card takes the stress off you and your family when the entire focus should be on your health. Don't let your next trip to the hospital be the incentive you need to do or update your will or trust.