Designated to Decide: How to Help a Loved One Finish Well

by Melissa Thomas

Columbia, MO – April 20, 2012 -- A loving daughter agrees to be her mother’s healthcare agent. A thoughtful mother completes a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and DNI (Do Not Intubate) forms. The mother even goes so far as to wear a bracelet to alert paramedics not to resort to heroic measures to save her life. The mother also has a form on her refrigerator door alerting others of her wishes.

Then the day comes which is most feared – her loved ones get a call from an emergency room...

Upon arrival, they discover their beloved mother is gravely ill. Emergency room personnel tell them only support through intubation will continue her life. In light of all the mother’s preparations, the end should have come quickly as daughter and medical staff honored her explicit desire not to be intubated and then put on a respirator. Instead the mother is intubated by the emergency room physician and put on a respirator in the ICU. The family gathers and watches as the mother suffers in ICU.

She dies 22 days later after what everyone agrees was a great deal of terrible suffering.

"They meant well. They had argued that they knew their mother best. They knew her better than some piece of paper that said not to intubate her or put her on life support. They knew her better than some bracelet that indicated to paramedics where to draw the line at treatment. They knew her better than some form on the refrigerator. But they didn’t." says Attorney, Alisa M. Dotson, head of the Health Crisis Management practice at Bassett Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, Missouri.

Adds Alisa, "The National Healthcare Decisions Day organization encourages families to have a “conversation” about advance care planning. This is the kind of planning needed to ensure a preferred course of healthcare is provided (or not provided) in the event of incapacity."

Alisa Dotson describes that from a true dialogue, the person choosing a healthcare agent can gain a finish of life of their own choosing and the person chosen as the healthcare agent will gain the peace of having helped a loved one “finish well.”

Read more about this and other topics in Bassett Law Firm's blog:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attorney Dotson has been licensed to practice law in Missouri since 1987. Alisa focuses her practice on Social Security Disability and Health Crisis Management. She is a member of the Missouri Bar, the American Bar Association, NAELA, and NOSSCR. Alisa has worked with a primary case load of clients with advanced cancers and terminal illnesses and represents her clients with a high level of sensitivity and professionalism.

For additional information about this author/attorney and her practice areas at Bassett Law Firm, LLC, please visit

ABOUT BASSETT LAW FIRM LLC: Since 2004, Bassett Law Firm LLC ( has successfully provided quality service to thousands of Social Security Disability (SSDI) beneficiaries, while adding two new practice areas - assistance to veterans in their pursuit of benefits from the Veterans Administration and health crisis management (Missouri only). Bassett Law Firm offers potential clients the same resources as many large law firms, without sacrificing the personalized focus and attention that comes with a boutique law firm staff.

Whether a client has been denied Social Security Disability/SSI benefits, or has never filed, the Bassett Law Firm helps clients get the benefits they rightly deserve.

Helping plan for your family's future when challenged by a serious injury, debilitating illness or aging – Health Crisis Management is our focus.

Our attorneys secure legal rights to benefits through quality representation for our veterans. No matter the level of appeal, no matter your location - Bassett Law Firm can help.

Source: Bassett Law Firm LLC


Melissa J. Thomas

Director of Marketing and Client Relations

Bassett Law Firm, LLC


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Melissa Thomas

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