Navigating your health choices for potential future scenarios where you may be unable to communicate them yourself can sometimes feel like dipping your toe into a sea of unknowns. Fortunately, legal documents like Advance Directives and Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) exist to make the process smoother. These documents house vital details about your health care preferences – from accepting or rejecting medical treatments to more specific decisions, such as organ and tissue donation. You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to create one, but legal counsel can often clear clouds of confusion. While these directives aren’t legally necessary, having one helps eliminate ambiguities about your wishes during otherwise chaos-filled situations. Once you’ve put your health decisions down on paper, sharing them with your health care providers and loved ones will ensure your wishes are carried out the way you intended. The MOLST form, in particular, walks side by side with you through different health care settings, expressing your unique needs and preferences.
Understanding Advance Directives
Definition of advance directives
Advance directives are essentially legal documents that outline your healthcare preferences when you are unable to communicate or make decisions. This situation might occur if you become critically ill or face a medical emergency. The directives stipulate your wishes about accepting, rejecting, or withdrawing from medical treatments, thereby ensuring that healthcare providers follow your desired course of action during critical times.
Importance of advance directives
Now, you might wonder, “why should I get an advance directive?” There’s a simple and critical reason: it promotes self-determination in health matters. It expresses your autonomy over your health, ensuring that your preferences are respected even when you cannot express them yourself. Besides, it is pivotal in reducing confusion during trying times, ensuring your healthcare providers, family and loved ones clearly understand and respect your health care decisions.
Legal requirements for advance directives
The legal requirements for advance directives vary from one jurisdiction to another. However, in many cases, the document must be in writing, signed by you or someone authorized to sign on your behalf, and witnessed by two adults. You should know that while you don’t need a lawyer to create an advance directive, legal counsel is beneficial if complex legal issues arise.
Types of Advance Directives
A Living Will is one popular type of advance directive. It indicates how you want to be cared for if you’re in a terminal condition or a persistent vegetative state. It can specify whether you want life-prolonging measures, palliative care, or other specific treatments.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney, also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, allows you to appoint a person to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to. The assigned person—also known as a health care proxy—must adhere strictly to your stipulated healthcare wishes in the document.
Health Care Instructions
Health Care Instructions is another type of advance directive. It details your specific health care preferences, such as desired treatments, organ and tissue donation, and special instructions on care. It’s a comprehensive document that thoroughly represents your health-related decisions.
Procedures for Creating Advance Directives
Steps involved in creating advance directives
The process of creating advance directives involves understanding your health care goals, discussing your choices with your doctor or health care provider, choosing your health care proxy if needed, and finally expressing your wishes in writing.
Professional input required in creating advance directives
While a lawyer isn’t required for the creation of an advance directive, they can offer invaluable guidance, especially when there are legal complexities. Healthcare providers also play a crucial role as they explain your health status and future prospects, helping you make informed decisions.
Sharing and Implementing Advance Directives
Who to share the advance directives with
Once completed, it’s vital to share copies of your advance directives with your healthcare providers, close family members, and any person you’ve appointed as your health care proxy. This way, they can respect and implement your healthcare wishes when the need arises.
How the directives are implemented
When a situation arises where you are unable to make decisions on healthcare, your doctors typically refer to your advance directive for guidance. The directives take precedence, specifying the course of action to be taken, which the medical team is obliged to follow.
Adjusting and Revoking Advance Directives
How and when to adjust advance directives
Your health care preferences may change over time, and you can revise your advance directives to reflect these changes. Revisions could be triggered by a change in your health status, life circumstances, or simply a change of mind about certain healthcare decisions.
Procedures for revoking advance directives
Should you ever wish to revoke your advance directives, you can achieve this by creating a new advance directive, destroying the existing document, or providing a signed written notice indicating your intention to revoke it.
Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST)
Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) is a form that outlines your treatment preferences. It differs from an advance directive in that it’s a medical order that travels with you across different health care settings, ensuring all your treatment preferences are honored by the healthcare professionals.
Purpose of MOLST
The main objective of MOLST is to ensure your health care preferences are accessible and adhered to, wherever you receive health care. This way, your treatment choices are always known and respected regardless of the healthcare setting.
Creating and Implementing MOLST
Steps involved in creating MOLST
Creating a MOLST typically involves a discussion with your healthcare provider about your treatment options and their consequences. Once you decide on the treatments you prefer, it’s recorded in the MOLST form which then becomes an actionable medical order.
How MOLST is implemented
How is MOLST carried out, then? Healthcare professionals implement MOLST by referring to it when making healthcare decisions on your behalf. It’s used in various healthcare settings like nursing homes, hospitals, or your private home.
Differences between Advance Directives and MOLST
Comparing the purpose of each
Advance directives and MOLST both aim to express your healthcare choices and ensure your treatment preferences are respected. However, while advance directives generally express your wishes, MOLST takes it a step further by acting as an actionable medical order to medical professionals.
Differences in implementation
Advance directives are usually used when you’re unable to make decisions, whereas MOLST is intended for use across all health settings, guiding healthcare professionals as they provide care.
Benefits of Advance Directives
How advance directives can avoid confusion
Advance directives bring clarity and cohesiveness to the decision-making process during critical times. By estimating potential scenarios and outlining your wishes beforehand, they preempt conflict and reduce confusion among healthcare providers and your loved ones.
The importance of conveying personal health care preferences
The directives are pivotal in ensuring that your individual health care preferences are respected. They are your voice when you’re incapable of expressing yourself, ensuring your autonomy is respected and crucial decisions are made as per your wishes.
Benefits of MOLST
How MOLST aids in patient treatment
MOLST guides health care professionals on your preferred treatments, allowing for a patient-centered approach that respects your decisions. It ensures the healthcare providers understand and carry out your wishes across all care settings.
Why MOLST is important in various health care settings
Being a transportable document, MOLST is a constant companion that retains its usability and validity in various healthcare settings – at home, in an ambulance, at a hospital, or a nursing facility. Thus, it ensures your treatment choices are upheld, providing peace of mind and respect for your healthcare rights.