Advanced Medical Directives and You

Not long before my Mom passed away, she was admitted to Bayonne Medical Center.  It was a trip she would not make it home from, and one that gave my family grey hairs along with some unwanted legal knowledge and stress.  Thanks to a recent study that was published, I now see that out experience is not as isolated as I would hope (to shield others from the dreadful experience).  According to the article posted on NBC News, Pulling the plug: ICU ‘culture’ key to life or death decision, how and how often a particular hospital chooses to authorize a DFLST (Decision to Forgo Life-Sustaining Therapy) varies greatly.

I guess this isn’t really new, which is why things like Advanced Medical Directives (aka Living Wills) have become so prominent.  But I think the vast differences in percentages (from 3.5 percent on the low end to 20.6 percent), is really startling.  But as my family learned, if you or a loved one have an Advanced Medical Directive, give it a look over and make sure it really says and what you think it does, and leaves the power in the proper hands, because it is your life that is at stake.  Because as we learned the hard way, that decision could fall into the hands of somebody either incompetent or just “trigger happy” and all to willing to slap a DNR (Do-Not-Resuscitate) bracelet onto the patient or pull life saving equipment.  With my Mom, we actually had one of each (Side Note: Not that anybody can choose when to be ill, but be extra vigilant around the holidays when staff often has lots of young, inexperienced “house doctors” on staff, or fill-ins because of vacations).

My mother did in fact have an Advanced Medical Directive. but thanks to wording that took control from the children and put it in the hands of the doctors, “when 2 doctors concur” (the doctor lied and did not have the second agreeing opinion, but that is a whole other story) we had many sleepless nights and calls to attorney’s to keep control of the situation.

Too many people have blind trust when it comes to doctors and hospitals, and just automatically assume, “they know best.”  This is simply not always the case, and even what is “the best for you” can vary from hospital to hospital.  At the end of the day, it is your (or your loved ones) life, and sadly if that hospital or doctor is wrong, “My Bad” doesn’t bring one back from the dead.  Protect yourself.  Have an Advanced Medical Directive so your wishes can be carried out, and be sure that it spells out exactly who has the power to act on your behalf, when and how.  Your life just may depend on it.


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