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Virginia Advance Directives

Oct 18, 2012

     Recently, I learned that after a person (not my client)  had finalized his Advance Medical Directives, he had not discussed them with his family, distributed them to his agents or filed them in  the Virginia Online Registry.

    His Medical Directives had specifically stated that if medical treatment would not lead to recovery, he did not want life support.  Yet, after suffering a stroke, he was given CPR, a feeding tube and oxygen.

    It has been months, there is no hope of recovery and he remains on life support.  His family now has his directives, but with the lapse of time they cannot bring themselves to release him from life support.

    If you do not have Advance Directives, or if you have not seen to it that they are in the hands of your agents and filed on the Virginia Online Registry, this blog is for you.

WHAT IS AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?
    
    There are two types of Advance Directives.  A Medical Advance Directive allows you to state your healthcare decisions.  A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to name someone to carry out the instructions you have set out in your Medical Advance Directive.  Both come into play if a medical emergency renders you incapable of speaking.  

MEDICAL ADVANCE DIRECTIVE

    This is sometimes called a Living Will.  It allows you to state your healthcare desires should you become incapable of expressing them.
   
     For example:
            
            It can specify the level of treatment you want should death be imminent;
            It can document your anatomical gifts;
            It can state your values with regard to medical care;
            It allows you to direct psychiatric treatment.

MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY

    This document allows you to appoint another person to be your "agent"
 or "proxy" to carry out the instructions set out in your Medical Advance Directive if you cannot do so.

    For example:
        
            It can allow your agent to consent to or refuse life support;
            It can allow your agent access to medical  records;
            It can authorize your agent to employ and discharge health care providers.

HOW TO ACQUIRE THESE DOCUMENTS

    The lawyers at EDWARD ZETLIN LAW usually draft the following 3 documents as a package: 

            A Medical Directive
            A Medical Power of Attorney
            A General Power of Attorney

    A General Power of Attorney allows an agent access to and powers over personal and financial matters that are not health related should you become incapacitated.

ONCE THE MEDICAL DIRECTIVES ARE FINALIZED

    Whether we at Edward Zetlin Law have finalized your Directives or not, we strongly recommend that you distribute them to your agents, family members and medical providers.  

     We also recommend that you enter them into Virginia's Health Care registry at www.VirginiaRegistry.org.    This secure tool ensures that medical providers, emergency responders, family members and anyone else you grant access to will honor the wishes you have expressed in your medical  directives.


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