Documents appointing an agent to act and providing instructions about your health care wishes when you are not able to make them yourself are called health care advance directives, explains Charles Sabatino, director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging.

There are several different types of advance directive documents, and it’s very important to understand how each of these documents functions, and to document your wishes appropriately.  Indiana’s most recent advance directive is the POST form.  The Indiana POST Program went into effect in July of 2013, for persons with advance chronic progressive disease, frailty, or terminal conditions. Unlike a living will, which may be used by any adult, the POST form is not intended for persons with a long life expectancy, and it must be executed in conjunction with a physician and the individual (or the individual’s Authorized Representative, Guardian or Power of Attorney).

An individual with a POST form should expect that the declarations on the form be complied with across all healthcare settings, which means that the form is legally acceptable by EMS Providers,  extended care facilities, hospitals and hospice Care.

The POST form has six sections which allow a patient to determine the type of care he or she wishes to receive based upon his/her medical condition:

Section A:      Code Status – does the patient want full resuscitation or not?
Section B:      Level of Medical Intervention – does the patient want full medical intervention such as IVs, fluids, and cardiac interventions, or limited medical intervention with only pain medication and items to help keep the patient comfortable?
Section C:     Antibiotics – does the patient wish to receive antibiotics or not?
Section D:     Artificial nutrition – does the patient want food via artificial means?
Section E:     Documents that a discussion occurred with the patient or the
representative with appropriate signatures
Section F:      Physician signature and identifiers

A recent landmark study by the Institute of Medicine concluded that 70% of older adults facing treatment decisions are incapable of making those decisions themselves. At Geyer & Associates, we believe YOU have the right (and the obligation – to yourself and your loved ones) to choose who will make health care decisions should you become incapacitated.

Advance directives ensure that your wishes will be respected and carried out.

by Rebecca W. Geyer