Medical Directive Attorneys in Fort Worth
What would happen if you were ever injured so severely that you couldn’t communicate your wishes? What if a court decided you were incompetent? Who would you want to make decision on your behalf? Texas medical directives are a group of documents that allow you to make decisions about your medical care now. Sometimes referred to as advanced directives, these documents ensure there’s no doubt about what you would have wanted. This might seem strange. After all, you don’t know what the future holds. Medical directives don’t require specific treatments, though. Instead, they provide details about treatments that are consistent with your values. They help you ensure that your religious and cultural beliefs are respected, and that your bodily autonomy is given the consideration it deserves.
O’Neil Wysocki P.C. helps you understand each document, ensuring it’s legally sufficient and will stand up in court if necessary. We’ll also talk to you about our own experience to help you make decisions. For instance, if you’re having trouble selecting an agent for your medical power of attorney, we can help you understand the hallmarks of a good agent.
Texas Medical Power of Attorney
The Texas Medical Power of Attorney allows you to name a competent adult who will act in your stead. This person’s wishes can’t and won’t trump your own. Instead, this person can only make decisions if you are unable to do so—such as if you are in a coma, unable to talk, or suffering from severe dementia. This document allows you to appoint someone to speak for you any time you are not able to do so on your own behalf—not just as the end of your life. So for example, a pregnant woman might appoint her husband as her agent in the event she is unconscious or otherwise unable to assert her wishes during childbirth. This document becomes effective as soon as a doctor determines that you cannot understand or choose appropriate treatment. When you select your agent, we recommend:
- Choosing someone you trust, who understands your values and knows your medical history. You shouldn’t feel like you have to go over each and every scenario with this person. Instead, you want someone who will think about what you would have wanted and make it happen.
- Selecting someone who is assertive with doctors. Choose someone who asks questions, not someone who passively accepts whatever a doctor says.
- Choosing someone who is unlikely to let financial or other considerations bias their decisions. A child with chronic financial difficulties who stands to inherit money, for example, might allow this to color their decision-making.
- Someone who is stable and reliable. No matter how much you love your spouse, parent, or child, if they have a drug addiction, an untreated mental illness, or another condition that makes them unlikely to make good decisions, choose someone else.
The person you select to act on your behalf cannot be:
- a healthcare provider who is treating you
- an employee of your healthcare provider, unless that employee is also a relative
- an in-home or residential care provider
- an in-home or residential care provider’s employee, unless that employee is related to you
Texas Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
This is sometimes known as a “living will,” but in Texas is just called a directive. It allows you to assert specific wishes about medical care if you have a terminal illness and can’t make medical decisions. It goes into effect when a physician certifies that you have an irreversible or terminal disorder, and cannot make your own decisions. For instance, you might share that you do not want to be kept on a ventilator.
Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate
If you prefer to forgo certain life-sustaining treatment in the event that you are terminally ill, you need an out-of-hospital do not resuscitate (DNR). This form must be completed with your physician, and allows you to specify which specific life-sustaining treatments you do or do not want. The most common life-sustaining treatment people choose not to have is CPR.
The law is strict about DNRs. This prevents their misuse. Some facts to keep in mind:
- You must obtain the form from a physician, and include their signature.
- You must have a copy of the form, or an approved ID bracelet or necklace indicating the form’s existence, with you.
You should discuss the document with family, friends, and anyone else who participates in your medical care before you sign it. It’s especially important to discuss this document with the person you appoint as your agent via your medical directive.
Mental Health Directive
A person experiencing a mental health crisis may not be able to give consent to treatment. When this happens, the hospital or doctor may rely on your medical power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf. In the alternative, you may draft a mental health directive. A mental health directive specifies the treatments you want or do not want should you become mentally incapacitated and require mental health treatment.
We can help you with each of these documents. Small details matter for ensuring each of the documents is legally sufficient. So give us a call today so we can help you plan for the future and have peace of mind.