Since the beginning of 2020, there have been few people in the United States who have not felt the impact of COVID-19 in some way. For people with existing health complications, the pandemic may have brought these to the forefront of their minds. Many have been forced to consider what will happen to them should they contract the disease, as well as how their ability to make medical decisions may be affected.
An advanced healthcare directive allows you to retain control of your medical decisions in case of COVID-19 exposure. These legal documents serve as a way to inform doctors and next of kin about what medical care you desire should you be unable to make these decisions on your own. A knowledgeable trusts and estates attorney could help you understand advanced healthcare directives and their utility in the face of COVID.
Types of Advanced Healthcare Directives
In most cases, an adult is the only person with the legal authority to make decisions concerning their medical care. As much as people may want to help those around them make the right choices, the fact remains that people of sound mind and body have the sole authority to choose their own medical treatment.
However, situations can arise that motivate an individual to transfer this power to another. Receiving a diagnosis of COVID-19 can be a powerful factor that leads to the creation of an advanced healthcare directive. These documents empower others to inform medical providers as to your wishes should you be unable to express them yourself. There are two main types of advanced healthcare directives: the living will and the medical power of attorney.
In a living will, the writer informs all medical personnel and next of kin about what treatment they want if they are no longer able to express those wishes in person. This can include a do not resuscitate order or a desire to participate in experimental treatment.
Medical Power of Attorney
Another option is a medical power of attorney. Here, the writer transfers the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf to another adult. That adult then has the power to choose which treatment is appropriate and to act as a proxy for all medical providers. A lawyer could provide more information about living wills, medical powers of attorney, and the effects that each may have on one’s legal and healthcare rights.
Why Advanced Medical Directives are Important when Considering COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us to take stock of what is important in our lives and to consider our health and medical futures. Even otherwise healthy people who contract COVID-19 may face a lengthy hospitalization or even death. As a result, receiving a diagnosis can motivate people to consider creating an advanced healthcare directive.
If loved ones know what treatment or lack of treatment you desire through a living will, it can be easier to retain control in these situations. Some people will want to place these decisions in the hands of a family member or friend. In this case, a medical power of attorney can empower these parties to make choices on their behalf. In both cases, these documents will have no legal effect should you remain conscious or in stable health.
Let an Attorney Explain Your Legal Rights Concerning COVID Medical Care
There is always a possibility with COVID, as with any ailment, that the individual that has fallen ill could lose their consciousness and ability to make decisions for themself. It is important to make your wishes for treatment known or to empower another to act on your behalf when a loss of decision-making power is a possibility.
An advanced healthcare directive can be a helpful tool for ensuring that medical decisions are made according to your wishes. A skilled attorney could help you draft these documents and ensure that they carry the appropriate legal weight in the instance that they need to be used. Call today to discuss advanced healthcare directives with a seasoned lawyer.