Did you hear the one about the lawyer who saved the day and made sure their client was completely prepared for the most difficult moments of their lives?
I’m proud to say that I work with lawyers and legal teams on behalf of clients every day at PyxisCare. Because no one likes being ambushed. And yet, I find after decades in a career that is built upon being prepared, that’s exactly how many of us feel when it comes to the intersection of medical and legal matters.
Hundreds of clients over the years have asked why LEGAL is one of the five aspects by which we help support our clients and develop care plans: medical, environmental, psychosocial, financial and….LEGAL. Sadly, many leave legal matters unresolved – not because it seems more difficult – but because it seems like…well… it seems like it can wait.
For us at PyxisCare, it’s among the first questions we ask because having your legal documentation in place can change everything. Absolutely everything.
Along with our legal partners – or yours if you already have a lawyer – we use the process to help clients think through some of the most momentous decisions of their lives. This is not an overstatement. It’s not easy to think through scenarios of what could happen in a medical emergency or if you became suddenly critically ill. Who do you trust? Who will make your decisions? How do you want to live? These aren’t questions to ask yourself during a crisis.
Documents like the Medical Power of Attorney (Health Care Proxy) ensure that someone you trust is ready to step in and carry out your wishes should it become necessary. This doesn’t have to be a family member. It does need to be someone who understands your priorities.
Your health care proxy will use your Advance Health Care Directive (aka Living Will) to guide decision making and should outline how you want to be treated and how comfortable you want to be, if you are not able to communicate.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) forms vary state to state and if you want family members to have access to your medical information, this should be prepared.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) forms are possibly the most commonly referred to forms when discussing medical rights, and perhaps the least understood. Again, these vary state by state and must be signed by multiple parties to be valid.
These forms are easier to write about than they are to discuss, but my team takes pride in walking our clients through the process with confidence and compassion.
A complicated or unresolved legal situation can make a painful medical situation much, much worse. So, I encourage you – in sickness and in health – to have a plan that you visit and revisit as your needs change.
If you’re like me and you’re lucky enough to see a lawyer today – tell them thank you for the expertise – and for the jokes.