Feb 6, 2011

Keep the courts out of your medical affairs!

Florida residents, pay attention to the sensational legal battle unfolding over 85-year-old Al Barnes' medical care. It offers many lessons on what to do and not do to stay in control over your medical destiny, keep the courts out of your personal medical decisions, and discourage family conflict. Here's the case in a nutshell:

A former heavy equipment salesman, Barnes has been in a Minnesota hospital for months, sustained by a respirator and feeding tube. His second wife of 27 years, Lana, is insisting on aggressive treatments that she feels will reverse his condition. Aligned against her are Al's sons by his first marriage, who claim their father did not want to be kept alive by artificial means; and Al's doctors, who claim that aggressive treatments are futile.

But it gets even more complicated, Last week's court hearing revealed that Lana had removed two pages from Al's 1993 medical directive - two pages in which he stated that he did not want to be subjected to extraordinary, life-prolonging measures. Moreover, a more recent health care power of attorney dated 1994 was also been produced, this one naming Barnes' son as his decision-maker.

The case drags on and it's up to the court to decide at this point. But we can learn important lessons from this unfortunate situation:

First, make sure that you discuss your end-of-life wishes with ALL your loved ones.

Second, put your wishes in writing. Your Medical Power of Attorney and your Living Will should be drafted by a Certified Elder Law Attorney with experience in this area, so that the documents are crystal-clear.

Keep these documents updated and keep them in a safe place. Let loved one know where to access them if they are needed.

Make copies of your documents for each of your loved ones.

Follow these simple rules and they will go a long way to keeping peace in your family and making sure your wishes for medical treatment are honored, without interference from the courts.
Read the full story on Al Barnes' end-of-life issues.
Read more about Florida Medical Power of Attorney and Living Wills.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I agree always consult with a certified elder law attorney before dealing with these matters. Great post.

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