Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
Most people don’t think about what they would want if faced with a life-threatening illness or a fatal medical injury. As people age, they start to think about their legacy and what they want to leave to their children, community, or others. They often create a will or trust so plans are in place.
An area of planning that is often overlooked are medical advance directives. Sometimes called a living will, an advance directive is a written statement of your wishes regarding medical care. It is a way of ensuring everyone essential to your medical choices understand your wishes if you are unable to make decisions on your own.
A POLST (physician order for life-sustaining treatment) form consists of medical orders for patients with specific critical health conditions. While the advance directive provides direction from the patient on his or her wishes, POLST is a medical order. For some, having both is important.
POLST information includes the patient’s wishes related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of antibiotics and IV fluids, use of a ventilator for breathing, and artificial nutrition by tube. A health care professional completes the form after having a conversation with the patient to understand his/her wishes and goals for care. Both patient and physician must sign the POLST form in order for it to be valid.
Another option is a DNR form which stands for do not resuscitate. A DNR tells health care providers and emergency medical personal not to perform CPR if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. It is important to have your DNR in your medical record as well as in a visible place such as on your refrigerator in case emergency personnel enter your home.
Advance directives, POLST, and DNRs are all voluntary. California law requires that the physician orders in a POLST be adhered to by health care providers. Physicians recommend that seriously ill patients or those that have a significant chance of dying in the next year should have a POLST.
One of the best advance directive documents is FIVE WISHES. It addresses questions such as the person you want to make decisions when you can’t, the kinds of medical treatment you want or don’t want, how comfortable you want to be, how you want to be treated, and what you want your loved ones to know.
It is important to provide official documents about your wishes to the hospital to be attached to your medical record. You can also provide it to your physician. Family members need to know where it is filed at home so they can find it if needed. Some people also give a copy to their estate planning professionals.
Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation offers the FIVE WISHES advance directive form for free. Every person needs their own advance directive. To get your copy, stop by the office at 140 Litton Drive, Suite 220, Grass Valley, email us with a home address at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-9700.
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