This year, National Healthcare Decisions Day is not just a day but an event lasting from April 16 to 22. This event is a national initiative to provide awareness and inspire adults to do or review their healthcare planning.
Nobody wants to think about the possibility of being unable to make their own healthcare decisions. However, it happens more than you might think. According to a Pew Research Center survey from 2006, within the five-year period preceding the survey, 42% of Americans had a relative or close friend suffer from a terminal illness or a coma. Furthermore 23% of Americans were confronted with the possibility of withholding life-prolonging treatment for their loved ones, and 10% of Americans helping make the difficult healthcare decisions for loved ones regarding the life-prolonging treatment.
An important decision is to determine who you would like to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable. This person becomes your healthcare surrogate. Since someone must make healthcare decisions for a person in a coma or who is otherwise unable to make their own healthcare decision, if you have not designated a healthcare surrogate, there is a healthcare proxy by default in the Florida Statutes. This may or may not be the person you would like to make such decisions for you.
A Living Will allows you to specify your preferences about life-prolonging procedures (such as ventilators or feeding tubes) when you are in an irreversible end-stage condition or persistent vegetative state. A DNR, or Do Not Resuscitate Order, which is obtained through a doctor, is a document specifying that no CPR should be performed.
The important thing is that you think about how you would like to be treated in regard to healthcare throughout your life. We recommend that you have a conversation with your loved ones and anyone you want to name as your healthcare surrogate. You can find ideas about how to approach such a conversation through a helpful PDF located here. In addition, we recommend that you consider contacting a qualified Florida attorney to assist you in drafting advance healthcare directives.