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National Healthcare Decisions Day 2021

National Healthcare Decisions Day 2021

National Healthcare Decisions Day is the right time to talk about deciding what you want in the event that you need long-term medical care. Many patients aren't aware of their rights and their ability to legally ensure that they'll be taken care of properly, according to their wishes. Involvement in your own care is vital to good health, so read on below to learn how you can advocate for your own care!

 National Healthcare Decisions Day

Speak Up and Ask Questions

This is the most important thing you can do as a patient. Ask questions about your treatment plan and symptoms; prepare them beforehand so you know the right questions to ask your doctor. Get a second opinion and beyond if necessary. If you're staying in the hospital or getting surgery, ask questions about how they prevent the spread of infections.

Involve Your Loved Ones

If your loved ones are clear on your treatment plan, medications, and symptoms. Keep a list of all your medications and dosages, and give them to anyone you live with and anyone who may pick up prescriptions for you. Fully inform your loved ones of any conditions you have and their symptoms, so that they will recognize if your condition worsens.

Choose Medical Proxy

Choose a Medical Proxy

You might not always be able to make decisions regarding your own medical care. To prepare for this possibility, it makes sense to choose a medical decision maker, or proxy. If you are unable to make decisions, this person can choose:

  • Your doctors, nurses, social workers, and caregivers.
  • Your hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.
  • Who has access to your medical information.
  • Your medications, tests, and treatments, including life support and resuscitation orders.
  • End of life decisions such as autopsy, organ donation, the presence of religious leaders, and funeral arrangements.

How Do I Choose a Medical Proxy?

The most important factor in choosing a medical decision maker is how much trust you have in this person to respect your wishes and carry them out. Legally, it cannot be your doctor or anyone who works at your hospital or clinic. You should look for a friend or family member who:

  • Is 18 years of age or older.
  • You trust to know your medical information.
  • Can understand and talk to you about your medical needs and wishes.
  • Is available to assist in your care and can be there for you when you need them.
  • Is willing to ask questions of medical professionals and speak up regarding your needs.

Long-term medical care is difficult in an ideal situation, so it bears repeating: choose a medical proxy you trust, and make sure you establish them as your legal medical proxy. Every state has different forms that you can use to do so, and the PREPARE program from Prepare for Your Care has them available at their website.

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