Why Advance Directives are Essential: NHDD

Next week (Tuesday the 16th) is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). Why is such a day necessary or even important you might be thinking? According to a 2003 article by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Study:

  • Less than 50 percent of the severely or terminally ill patients studied had an advance directive in their medical record.
  • Between 65 and 76 percent of physicians whose patients had an advance directive were not aware that it existed.

The numbers are important, but even more startling is a story that really brings the numbers to life.

The Lesson of Terri Schaivo

If you have been to one of our “College Bound Teen” Events, you have probably heard me tell the story of Terri Schaivo. Terri collapsed in her Florida home mysteriously (some speculate a side effect of bulimia) and lapsed into a vegetative state that left her permanently disabled and on a feeding tube. Her husband and parents fought relentlessly over whether or not she should be removed from life support. (Read more about her case HERE)

Because Terri did not have a living will or any other estate planning documents in place, it was up to the courts to ultimately decide her fate, which happened more than 20 times causing the family (both sides) tremendous grief and angst. Though this example is extreme, it illustrates the point that simple planning for even the unthinkable saves an enormous amount of heartache, guilt, grief and money for all involved. This is why advance care planning and tools, such as a living will and health care power of attorney help families be sure to honor the wishes of their members.

National Healthcare Decisions Day & You

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) was created by The Conversation Project. (Read our blog on this program HERE.) ‘NHDD exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.” If you haven’t created these documents, don’t wait. Come see me and I can guide you and your family through producing documents such as a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney.