Utilizing Advance Directives and life planning
Although it may be uncomfortable, it’s necessary for providers to stress to members the importance of having legal documents in place should they face a life-threatening illness. They need to understand that doing so will help ensure their wishes are followed in case they become incapacitated and unable to participate directly in medical decision-making.
The Patient Self-Determination Act requires that patients be informed about their right to participate in healthcare decisions, including their right to have an advance directive. Providers must note the presence of an advance directive in the member’s medical record and follow all applicable state and federal laws regarding its execution. Here are a few items you can discuss with your patients.
- Make clear the possible health implications of their medical condition. You can explain the importance of creating a living will that covers the treatments they want, or do not want, should they become incapacitated. You can suggest that the member include information on the use of dialysis and breathing machines, resuscitation efforts, tube feeding and organ or tissue donation.
- Remind members to think about their care if they need more assistance beyond friends and family.
- Explain the importance of having a durable power of attorney that names their healthcare proxy.
For your convenience, the Provider Practice Standards & Guidelines section of the Provider Manual provides links that will connect you to resources that can assist you in explaining advance directives and life planning. Taking these steps before life-threatening accidents or health emergencies occur can ensure less confusion for members and their loved ones.