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Health Care Papers: What You Need When Admitted to a Hospital

If you have a serious or terminal illness, you must have your wishes concerning medical care and treatment known if you are unable to communicate with the medical professionals taking care of you.  Health care papers let you appoint a trusted family member or friend to act as an agent on your behalf to express your wishes to the medical professionals.  Therefore, you should have a “do not resuscitate order,” a living will, and a medical power of attorney OR an advance directive for health care.

1.    A “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order,” signed by a physician, orders medical professionals not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart or breathing stops.  You should consider a DNR Order if your medical condition is terminal or so serious that there is little or no likelihood that you will recover.  Without a DNR Order, medical professionals will perform CPR on you.    

2.    A Living Will lets you select and make known one or more life-sustaining treatments that you want if you have a serious or terminal illness.  Examples of life-sustaining treatments include, but are not limited to, artificial airways and respirators; feeding tubes; and intravenous hydration, antibiotics, and pain medication.  

3.    A Medical Power of Attorney lets you name a trusted family member or friend to act as an agent on your behalf to make health care decisions if you are unable or unwilling to do so.   

4.    An Advance Directive for Health Care (ADHC), adopted by Georgia in 2007, includes the features of a DNR, living will, and medical power of attorney.  An ADHC lets you name an agent to a) make medical decisions on your behalf, b) select end of life treatments for you if you are terminally ill or in a state of permanent unconsciousness, and c) nominate a guardian if you are unable to take care of yourself.

An ADHC is an integral part of a comprehensive estate plan and should be reviewed and, if necessary, updated periodically.  If you have questions about Health Care papers or are interested in preparing an ADHC, we at The Becker Law Firm would be happy to help you. 

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