February 17, 2015
By Elder Care Attorney Rick Law. Founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in Western Chicagoland, Illinois.
A 2008 study reviewed life-sustaining-treatment decisions that occurred between hospital medical staff and their patients and/or their health-care agents under advance directives. The conclusion of the study is frightening. “Despite patients’ wishes, the indiscriminate use of technology and the lack of communication between patients and health care providers have been shown to result in unnecessary pain and suffering for patients.” (FM Pieracci, Prospective Analysis of Life-Sustaining Therapy Discussions in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit: A Housestaff Perspective (2008).)
Additionally, according to the study, the medical costs of prolonging a dying patient’s life via artificial ventilation and intensive care often range between $11,000 and $36,000.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent “wrongful resuscitation” from happening. An experienced Elder Law attorney may be able to help you with the following:
- Create a written advance directive such as a health-care power of attorney, living will, and/or a DNR in appropriate circumstances;
- Insist that the advance directives are placed in your medical records and that the physician is well aware of the existence of such documents;
- Advise you through “the talk” with family and the doctor to make sure that everyone is very aware of the your feelings regarding life-sustaining treatment in the event there is no hope of recovery; and
- Choosing an “advocate” as the health-care power of attorney and/or surrogate decision maker.
An advocate is someone who can look a medical professional in the eye and insist that certain wishes be carried out. This is someone who can insist that the client’s desire regarding life-prolonging treatment be respected by the medical profession.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has emphasized that patients have the right to make decisions regarding their long-term health care and that those decisions should be respected by physicians and hospitals.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s it is even more important to have “the talk” sooner rather than later. Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease, and it is in everyone’s best interest to find out how the person suffering from the disease feels about life-prolonging treatment.
If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now.
Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.
Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!