Generally, it is very difficult to move forward with health care if a person is no longer able to direct their own health care if there is not a valid Advance Directive for Health Care in place.
Please see the related articles on this site for more discussion of what constitutes a valid Advance Directive for Health Care in Oregon.
While there are some work arounds when there are no such Advance Directives for Health Care, sometimes this results in a person designated by a hospital or other health care facility making health care decisions.
In addition, it can be very difficult or even impossible for someone other than an actual spouse or child to make decisions or to get information, and it can result in a stand off between various relatives who have different notions of how to proceed. In some cases, even an actual spouse or child can have great difficulty getting health information, or making decisions regarding care.
Having a valid Advance Directive for Health Care in place can prevent this, and can ensure that the right person makes decisions and can give instructions to doctors and hospitals which they can safely follow, even if other relatives disagree.
Having a valid Advance Directive for Health Care can also allow someone such as a long term partner or a close friend to make decisions, even though they are not related to the person.
This can be increasingly important as our social circles shrink, and it can be critical if one has friends or long term partners who should be making these decisions, instead of the decisions being made by relatives who may not actually be close to the person at all.
Getting health care information so that one can plan for the future, or make health care decisions, can also be very difficult without a valid Advance Directive for Health Care.
In contrast, if someone is not able to direct their own care, HIPAA allows doctors and other providers to provide full information to the Health Care Representative if there is a valid Advance Directive for Health Care.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
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