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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting doctors to follow our wishes with advance directives

People of all faiths and atheists should be interested in doctors ignoring patients' wishes about life support. Whether or not you are predisposed to a particular religious point of view about life support, whether your wish is to be on life support, or not to be on life support, or something in between depending on the circumstances, we need a way to make sure doctors are paying attention to what our wishes are.

Three things are particularly important for everyone: 1) filling out an advance health care directive to indicate your wishes and your desired medical agent (durable power of attorney for health care), 2) having a knowledgeable health care advocate; in addition to designating the person who cares about you most as your agent, this person if they do not have a lot of experience from the medical care system may need help from someone more knowledgeable, and 3) the importance of registering your advance directive with an organization such as US Living Will Registry so that hospitals and health care facilities can check to see if one is present when you are admitted.

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