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Advance Directives (cont.)

Facts About Advance Directives

  • A lawyer may be helpful with the completion of these matters, but one is not required.
  • You can designate information regarding organ donation in most advance directive documents.
  • You can withdraw, change, or revoke your advance directive at any time you choose.
  • The laws regarding advance directives vary from state to state. If you plan to spend an extended period of time in another state, complete the necessary papers for that state regarding your medical wishes. Legal experts agree, however, that most states will honor an out-of-state advance directive if it meets legal requirements in the state that it was executed.
  • Give copies of your advance directive to as many people as you can.
    • In the untimely event of a medical emergency, those closest to you will need to know where the papers are in order to provide them to the medical personnel.
    • Give copies to your family, neighbors, clergy, doctor, lawyer, and the staff of the facility where you live.
    • Too often a person with a terminal condition goes into cardiac arrest at home, and the family cannot find the paperwork to relate the person's wishes to the emergency personnel. This situation frequently results in excessive resuscitation efforts -- despite your wishes and desires. Unfortunately, without the legal paperwork, emergency personnel must do everything possible to attempt to revive someone.
  • A living will does not mean the withholding of pain medications or other comfort measures. The whole purpose of completing a living will is so that you can express your wishes for medical treatment and, if the situation warrants, die with dignity. For this reason, pain medication and comfort measures would be provided whenever appropriate to minimize any suffering and make you as comfortable as possible.

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