What's the Main Mistake People Make When Drafting Advanced Care Directives?
4 min read

What's the Main Mistake People Make When Drafting Advanced Care Directives?

What type of mistakes do people make with advanced care directives? How can advanced care directives make life easier for your family? Keep reading to find out common mistakes with Advanced Care Directives and how you can avoid them!

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An  Advanced Care Directive is an essential legal document that allows people to express their healthcare preferences and decisions in advance, ensuring their medical treatment aligns with their wishes. This is especially important when a person becomes unable to communicate or make decisions for themselves. However, despite their importance, many people make mistakes when drafting advanced directives. In this article, we will explore common errors that people make and how to avoid them to ensure that your advanced directives accurately reflect your healthcare choices.

Not Drafting an Advanced Directive

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to advanced care directives is simply procrastination. If you are young or middle-aged and don't have a health condition, drafting documents involving your healthcare doesn't seem important. However, accidents and unexpected health crises can happen at any time. Since life is unpredictable, it's essential to create advanced directives sooner rather than later. If you wait until a medical emergency occurs, you may not be able to communicate your preferences at all.

Not Seeking State-Specific Resources

Drafting advanced care directives can be complex, especially when dealing with specific medical conditions and legal regulations. The legal requirements differ from state to state. Failing to understand your state's law may lead to errors or misunderstandings in your directives. You should be sure to review legal statutes online and use trusted platforms like FatWill. If your medical situation is complex, you should consult with a lawyer and physician about your goals.  

Vague or Ambiguous Language

Advanced care directives should be clear and specific to avoid confusion or misinterpretation by healthcare providers and family members. Using vague or ambiguous language can result in your directives being open to multiple interpretations, potentially leading to disagreements or unwanted medical interventions. Clearly state your preferences and intentions regarding life-sustaining treatments, organ donation, and end-of-life care.

Failing to Appoint a Healthcare Proxy or Agent

One of the primary purposes of advanced directives is to appoint a healthcare proxy or agent, someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. Failing to designate a healthcare proxy can leave a vacuum in decision-making during critical moments, potentially causing delays in treatment or disagreements among family members. Be sure to complete the form and name a proxy and an alternate person just in case your first choice is unwilling or unable to serve.

Not Informing Your Loved Ones About Your Choices

Creating advanced directives is not a one-time task. It is crucial to discuss your healthcare preferences with your chosen healthcare proxy, family members, and your medical team. Failing to communicate your wishes can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts when the directives need to be implemented. Regular and open conversations about your healthcare choices are essential.

Neglecting Updates and Revisions

Your healthcare preferences may change over time due to evolving medical conditions, personal beliefs, or life circumstances. Neglecting to review and update your advanced care directives can result in them becoming outdated and not reflecting your current wishes. It is recommended to revisit your directives periodically, especially after significant life events or changes in your health status.

Not Providing Copies to the Relevant Parties

Once you've created advanced directives, it's essential to provide copies to your healthcare proxy, your primary care physician, and any other relevant healthcare providers. If these documents are not easily accessible when needed, it can lead to confusion and delays in making medical decisions in accordance with your preferences. There are usually special rules applicable to do-not-resuscitate orders. These orders instruct healthcare providers not to provide CPR in the event of cardiac arrest. In most states, a DNR must be written by a doctor and included in your medical chart to be valid.

Overlooking Cultural or Religious Considerations

Your advanced directives should reflect your cultural and religious beliefs regarding medical treatment, end-of-life care, and organ donation. Ignoring these considerations can result in your directives conflicting with your deeply held values or causing distress to your loved ones.

Including Unnecessary or Conflicting Provisions

Some people may include overly detailed or contradictory instructions in their advanced care directives. This can create confusion for healthcare providers and family members, potentially delaying necessary care or causing disputes. Keep your directives concise, clear, and free from contradictory statements. If you are confused about a medical term or procedure, be sure to seek advice from medical providers so that your preferences are clear.

Draft Online Advanced Directives

Drafting advanced care directives is a critical aspect of proactive healthcare planning. To ensure that your medical treatment aligns with your preferences during times of incapacity, it's crucial to avoid common mistakes. Start the process early, seek legal and medical advice if you need it, use unambiguous language, designate a healthcare proxy, and regularly update your directives to reflect your current wishes. By avoiding these errors, you can ensure that your advanced care directives effectively convey your healthcare choices and provide peace of mind to both you and your loved ones. 

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