At Legal Health Care Decision Day on April 16th LegalHealth provided people with information for free to leave for doctors describing the kind of medical treatment they want in case they are too sick to care for themselves. LegalHealth hosted planning tables at 10 hospitals throughout the city that provided information to leave with relatives and hospitals with directives on how they wanted to be treated at that time.
LegalHealth also provided the forms for this information. One of the forms was a “living will.” A living will helps people make a decision through a simple but legal document that is made in advance of not being able to make the communications one wants about medical assistance. During the event, LegalHealth assisted anyone over the age of 18 prepare a living will. The other document provided was a “healthcare proxie.” A health care proxie is a designation of an individual to make health related decisions including end of life issues in their behalf in the event of incapcitation/incompetency. Advocates also assisted the general public in registering with the U.S. Living Will Registry, an online service of information for hospitals and doctors giving 24-access in an emergency.
National Health Care Decision Day helped people understand that if they are too ill to communicate their medical wishes, their family or friends may not be allowed to make healthcare decisions for them. Healthccare proxies and living wills are important documents and less than one percent of the national population has either one let alone both. It was discovered that not even all hospital staff have either document, so there is a lot of work left to do.
Next year there will be another outreach and hopefully LegalHealth willl sign up hundreds more people for these important documents.