Have you considered what would happen if you fell into a coma and couldn’t tell people what care you wanted to receive? Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. It often rips families apart as they fight over what their loved one would want. Oregon advance directives help you avoid this scenario.

An advance directive is a set of written instructions stating what a person wants in terms of medical care and treatment if he or she becomes incapacitated. Your advance directive may also appoint a healthcare representative or medical power of attorney – someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

If you still have questions about Oregon advance directives, don’t worry. We have the answers to nine of the most common questions.

1. What advance directive forms are used in Oregon?

The Oregon Health Authority has an advance directive form available in multiple languages, taken from Senate Bill 199. Although you do not need to use this form, whatever you do use should be similar. The form is 11 pages long and must be signed and witnessed by either two witnesses or a notary.

2. Why should you use an attorney for help with forms?

Advance directive forms are often lengthy and complicated. Many people have never given much thought to the questions the forms ask. An attorney who is experienced with advance directives can guide you through the process to ensure you clearly express your wishes and consider the ramifications of those instructions.

Furthermore, an advance directive is only one piece of incapacity planning. In addition to completing an advance directive and naming a healthcare representative to make decisions on your behalf, you should name a power of attorney to make legal and financial decisions. A lawyer will help you tackle everything.

3. Can a physician go against a patient’s advance directive?

The American Bar Association explains that advance directives are legally recognized but not legally binding, meaning doctors may refuse to comply if they have an objection of conscience or believe the wishes are medically inappropriate. In such a scenario, the doctor should transfer care to another provider.

4. What if a healthcare provider doesn’t ask about an advance directive and administers unwanted care?

Healthcare providers cannot follow your wishes if they don’t know what those wishes are or if you have not expressed your wishes clearly. To avoid this, use the assistance of an experienced attorney to create clear instructions. You should share the information with your healthcare representative as well as with your healthcare providers. In addition, discuss your wishes to ensure your healthcare providers understand your intentions.

5. What if there’s no advance directive on file?

Harvard Medical School advises that your advance directive should be placed in your medical record to be available to providers when needed. If you are staying in the hospital, the advance directive should be placed in your hospital chart. You should instruct your healthcare representative to provide the hospital with the advance directive if you are unable to do so yourself.

You can request access to check your medical records. Many healthcare providers now use online portals that allow patients to access their own records.

6. Who is responsible for making sure healthcare providers follow an advance directive?

Healthcare providers should follow the advance directive once it is available to them, although there may be times when they object for medical or moral reasons.

When doctors ignore advance directives, they may face complaints, discipline, and even lawsuits. A study published in Oncology Times found that two-thirds of physicians made end-of-life treatment decisions in hypothetical situations that were inconsistent with the patients’ wishes. This may be because they were considering additional information, such as treatment outcomes or family preferences. In other cases, physicians may not want to admit failure by stopping treatment or they may have come to know the patient well and feel they understand the patient’s current wishes.

Having an up-to-date advance directive that reflects your current wishes and a healthcare representative who understands your wishes and is willing to advocate for you helps ensure healthcare providers follow your true wishes.

7. Can a family member override a loved one’s advance directive wishes?

Healthcare providers should always follow your advance directive. However, family members may try to argue that the advance directive no longer reflects your wishes or that the healthcare provider is interpreting it incorrectly. To avoid such scenarios, make sure your advance directive reflects your current wishes. If it is old, you may want to update it. Also discuss your wishes with your providers and healthcare representative to ensure they know your intentions.

8. Are providers required to tell patients about advance directives?

Healthcare providers may discuss advance directives when a patient is diagnosed with a condition. Additionally, during your Medicare annual wellness exam, your doctor may discuss advance care planning, including advance directives. If your doctor does not bring up advance directives, you should request an appointment to discuss them.

9. What are the biggest advance directive mistakes?

The biggest mistake is not creating an advance directive at all. The second biggest mistake is creating one half-heartedly – for example, by not filling out the form completely or by failing to discuss it with your healthcare provider and representative.

An attorney can help you avoid mistakes when completing your advance directive.

Do you need help with your Oregon advance directive? Contact Skinner Law.