The Current Coronavirus Pandemic Has Highlighted a Need to Be Prepared in many ways, from the individual level to the national public health level. One of the ways individuals should be prepared is with advance healthcare directives that convey their priorities for emergency care, critical care, and end of life care. And while ideally most of us aren't traveling now and are staying home as much as possible, it's a good idea to have these directives and a healthcare proxy in place just in case there's an emergency, as well as before traveling again, once it's safe to do so.
Many readers may be dismissive of the need to create healthcare directives, because they're younger and healthy, and coronavirus deaths and serious cases tend to occur with older and sicker patients. That said, coronavirus has killed previously healthy people in their twenties and thirties, and of course tragic accidents can occur at any age.
One of the better ones I've come across is MyDirectives, which securely records your responses and is accessible to your medical team in the event of an emergency. Preference questions include:
- What is most important to you if you're seriously ill, unable to make your wishes known, and doctors aren't able to improve your medical condition?
- If you are having significant pain or suffering, would you like your doctors to consult a Supportive and Palliative Care Team to help treat your physical, emotional and spiritual discomfort, and to support your family?
- In the event of a terminal illness, preference for all life-sustaining treatments vs. dying naturally
- Preference for where to spend final days (home, hospital, hospice facility)
- Willingness to be an organ donor or not
- Contact details for your chosen healthcare agent
While most people are not keen to contemplate their demise, it's better to have thought through these decisions before one is in an actual life or death emergency, and your family and medical care team will appreciate having this guidance if you're unable to provide it.
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