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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why You Need an Advance Directive: VA Doctors Participate in 'Adverse Events' Study

Discussing end-of-life issues is never easy. However, difficult medical scenarios can arise at a moment’s notice, and we believe all our clients should have a say – albeit via a healthcare power of attorney – in their treatment when facing a terminal or debilitating condition. An advance directive is a power of attorney drafted solely to address complex medical issues – and specifically pertains to the scenario in which you cannot advocate for yourself due to unconsciousness, injury or illness. As a component of the healthcare power of attorney – also known as an “Advance Directive” – an agent can make important end-of-life decisions, including their wishes with regard to resuscitation, life support and pain management.

We know that making these decisions can be somewhat difficult, however the best course of action is to memorialize your wishes while you are still able. As revealed by a recent study involving several VA hospitals, doctors are having an increasingly difficult time communicating possible adverse side effects with patients – particularly those undergoing serious, complex surgical procedures.

The study, which focused primarily on medical errors made in the course of treatment, nearly 90 percent of all doctors involved reported that they routinely communicated adverse events with patients and/or family members within 24 hours of the incident occurring. Adverse events are described as anything from conducting an MRI on the wrong body part to leaving surgical equipment in the body after an operation. However, only one-half of doctors in this scenario reported they did not discuss with the patient whether the mistake was preventable, and just one-third discussed with patients ways the physician would work to ensure the mistake would not happen in the future.

In a statement by one VA physician, “[l]ots of clinicians don’t feel comfortable about these conversations, and doctors say they don’t know what to say, they don’t know how to say it….I’ve had no training on having these conversations in medical school or residency.”

Knowing that communication between doctors and patients can be difficult – or even non-existent – we encourage all of our clients to ensure their medical wishes are properly documented through the use of an Advance Directive and living will.

Contact an experienced estate planning attorney today!

For help executing an estate plan, please contact the experienced professionals of the Monk Law Firm, PLLC today: 803-594-4453. 


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| Phone: 803-594-4453
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| Phone: 704-369-9977

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