Advance Directives for Health Care - Additional Conditions

Friday, October 14, 2011

    Although Oregon Advance Directives for Health Care (called Living Wills in some other states) must be in the form prescribed in Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 127.531, there are two places in that form where special conditions or limitations can be inserted.

    One of these special conditions, relating to involuntary or forced treatment for mental health care is discussed in a separate article called Advance Directives for Health Care and Forced Mental or Dementia Treatment.

    Other special conditions that some elder law lawyers think are valuable include special conditions that relate to Hospice Care, the Hiring and Discharge of Doctors, Tissue or Organ Donation, Visitors, Pain Control, Home Care, and even Moves to Another Jurisdiction.

    These special conditions can be very valuable in appropriate circumstances.  While some  some physicians occasionally argue that these special conditions are unnecessary, it can be crucial to have the special conditions in place when they ARE needed, so that there can be no question as to what the person wanted or what authority the Health Care Representative has.  This is true even though (or perhaps particularly because) the special circumstances that make these special conditions necessary do not arise very often.

    It is very important that the Advance Directive for Health Care form be properly filled out.  All too often, important parts of the form are not filled out or are not properly signed or witnessed.  Also, all too often, parts of the Advance Directive are filled out in ways that are internally inconsistent, so it is difficult to determine what the person actually wanted, or what the person’s actual instructions were.

    It must be remembered, these Advance Directives for Health Care only come into play when a person is unable to direct his or her own health care.  In other words, they only come into play when the person is unable to articulate his or her own wishes and to enforce these instructions themselves.  It can be very important that there be no doubt as to the powers of the Health Care Representative in such circumstances, and it can be very important that there be no doubt as to what the wishes of the person were when the person is no longer able to articulate them him or herself.