Do you have a Living Will?

Recently, I had a routine appointment with my doctor during which he asked if I was up to date with my legal procedures in the event of an unforeseen illness or accident.  This got me to thinking about Living Wills so I decided to do some research and see how StaffScapes could help our clients and employees with this very important topic.  According to the website of local injury law firm, Bachus and Schanker, LLC, we all have the right to decide what forms of treatment we want and how they are administered when it comes to end of life decisions.  The first recommendation they make is to put Advance Directive’s into place.  These include:
1. A Living Will.  This document provides details pertaining to illnesses that are terminal.
2. A Medical Durable Power of Attorney.  Allows for someone that you want to make medical decision on your behalf if and when you are unable to do so for yourself.  
3. CPR Directive.  Assigns instructions for when health care providers are allowed to perform CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) on you and when you do not want to be resuscitated. 
So let’s take a bigger look at these three.  First, A Living Will provides instructions on areas including artificial nourishment (i.e. “feeding tube”) and other procedures designed to sustain your life.  Often, information regarding your desires for organ donation will be included here as well.  By Colorado law, your doctor is required to follow your instructions or if not willing, transfer your care to a doctor that will.  You may instruct your doctor to keep you alive or remove you from assistance in the follow situations:
• You are terminally ill and doctors do not believe you will be cured 
• A coma has lasted for more than 48 hours and test results show you most likely will not wake up
• Your illness has prevented you from making sound decisions about your healthcare
• Communication is no longer possible for you

Second is the Medical Durable Power of Attorney.  I consulted information from Senior Answers and Services and learned that this document is important for not just aging people, but also those that have a chronic illness or whom are facing surgery. In general, signing this agreement will give the person of your choice the ability to make your decisions for you when it comes to medical care.  They also suggest having a back up that is authorized in the event your first choice is unable to perform your requested wishes.  Making your Power of Attorney “durable” will allow your chosen representative to make decision when you are incapacitated as well.  Upon death, the appointment ends and the executor for your estate will assume responsibilities for final distribution of your wishes.

The third area is that of CPR Directives.  From what I’ve read, the CPR Directive is in addition to either of the previously mentioned documents and must be obtained from either your doctor or the Colorado Department of Health.  It seems your doctor must consult with you about your options and then sign the order afterward.  This I learned from another site I found that I felt was really helpful which was the CBA or Colorado Bar Association.  Visit this link to learn more on this topic.  Once these documents are finalized, my doctor informed me that copies should be given to him so that in the event of an emergency, they would be able to provide them as needed to the appropriate medical providers.  Although not directly related to Human Resources, I believe that information such as this is important for us all and is why I have chosen to share my research with you and your employees.  I’m not an attorney so it is probably best to consult one for advice.  Here’s some more contact information if you are interested in more details:

For a download of the Colorado Living Will, click here and you will be taken to the Bachus and Schanker, LLC form.  If you want forms to complete for a durable medical power of attorney, call Senior Answers and Services at 303-333-3482.

Written By: Eugena Bellamy