In Florida every competent adult has the basic right of self-determination concerning decisions about his/her health. It means that every individual has the right to refuse or select medical treatment. In Florida, the law recognizes the right of a competent adult to make health care directives. These directives can instruct his/her physician to withdraw, withhold or provide life-prolonging procedures. Otherwise, the person can create directives designating another person in his family to decide on the treatments he should get. He can give this directive to be followed when he is not in a position to decide because he is suffering from a terminal condition.
How Are Health Care Directives Different From a Living Will?
You might have heard about the practice of writing a living will. But, you might be wondering how it is different from health care directives.
Health care directives, which are otherwise called advanced directives, are written or oral instructions. This document gives instructions regarding the future medical care that a person should get when he/she is not in a position to decide. It can be due to unconsciousness or difficulty communicating.
When it comes to a living will, it is actually a kind of health care directive. However, the difference is that it gets into the picture when the person becomes terminally ill.
Also, an advance directive is not a permanent set of directives. A patient can make changes and update the contents as and when he wishes to. Also, the caregiver and the patient himself/herself should keep the healthcare team informed about any changes made to this document. Every person around the individual should keep himself/herself informed about the preferences of the patient. An attorney can provide you with the latest rules regarding creating this document.
What to Know About Healthcare Proxy?
The term healthcare proxy in Florida is used for denoting the person whom you give the authority to make medical decisions for you. This term is used interchangeably with other terms like surrogate and healthcare agent as well. When some people appoint a family member as a healthcare proxy, others appoint a close friend to take this role. The thing to remember here when designating a person to take this role is that he/she should be able to understand the treatment choices.
What to Know About DHCS?
When you plan to take health care directives, it is important that you should understand different terms. One of these terms is DHCS. It is expanded as the Designation of a Health Care Surrogate. It is a legal document that permits you, who will be called as the principal, to appoint another person called surrogate or attorney-in-fact to arrive at medical decisions on your behalf. It will get into force if you become permanently or even temporarily unable to decide on medical treatments yourself. The person you choose as your surrogate need not be a lawyer.
Now, you know that DHCS is nothing but the other name of health care directives.
What Should a Person Do After He Has Health Care Directives?
Let us consider that you have got your health care directives written with the help of an attorney. You might be wondering what to do after getting one. You should ensure that an individual like one of your family members, your lawyer, or your doctor knows that you have this document. Also, the person to whom you inform its presence should know the place in which you have it. Here are other things you should do:
- If you have designated a health care surrogate, make sure that the person has a copy of the document
- Make sure that your doctor has a copy
- Ensure that you keep a copy in a place from which your family members can easily grab it.
- Keep a note and place it in your purse stating that you have a health care directive. This note should also say where you have placed it.
- If you make some changes to the directive, ensure that your family member, lawyer, and doctor get a copy of the new directive.
Even if you have your health care directive prepared in other states but want treatment in Florida, it is valid.
What More Should You Know About Health Care Directives?
Nursing homes and hospitals in Florida never fail to ask whether a patient has a healthcare directive when admitting. But, the thing to remember here is that you will be admitted irrespective of whether you have this document or not. If you are not in a position to decide and if you do not have this document, the hospital will look for someone to decide on your behalf. This person can be one of your family members or your close friend. But, the authority of this person will not be as broad as that of a surrogate.
Once you are admitted and reach your care area, your doctor and nurse will develop a plan to implement your health care directive. Also, remember and keep your family members informed that if you have a health care directive written already, they should carry it to the hospital when you are admitted. This issue will not arise if you have already provided a copy to your physician.
Make sure that the document is available readily. Do not keep it in your safety deposit box that will be hard to reach for others. Also, reiterate that your family members are aware of where you have kept it.
Health care directives are not necessitated by law in Florida. Nevertheless, having one will ensure that you will get the right treatment as per your desire. This will happen irrespective of whether you are conscious or not. You have every right to decide on the treatment you should get, irrespective of whether you are conscious or unconscious. Thanks to health care directives! They help people ensure it.