Providers: Are You Observing National Healthcare Decisions Month?

Harris Beach PLLC

April is often promoted as National Healthcare Decisions Month, with April 16 designated the “Healthcare Decisions Day.” The awareness campaign serves as a valuable annual reminder for health care providers to discuss with patients the importance of advance care planning, especially appointing a Health Care Proxy (HCP) who understands a patient’s medical wishes and is authorized to make decisions. The New York state Health Care Proxy, especially in its updated version, is easy to execute and can help explicitly express medical wishes for the agent to comply with. In the absence of a HCP, a surrogate can be appointed (based upon the Family Health Care Decisions Act); but surrogates are often compelled to make tough decisions without having had a prior conversation with the individual to clarify wishes, and may be limited in their authority to act on behalf of an incapacitated person. Take note of this optimal time to make patients aware of the importance of selecting a proxy and talking to their chosen agent and family about health care decisions. It’s especially important to talk about life-sustaining treatments, such as cardiac resuscitation, intubation, ventilator supports, recurrent hospitalization, and artificial hydration and nutrition.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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