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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Dragon

Nevada Health Care Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive

Most of us don’t think about our future health care decisions. When a health issue arises (when we get sick or injured), the doctor talks about our options, and we make the best decision for ourselves and our children based on the doctor’s recommendations.

But what happens if you can’t decide because you are unconscious, in a coma, or suffering from a related health issue (known as being in an incapacitated state). You can’t make your health care decisions if you are unconscious. So, who makes the decision on your behalf?

The answer depends on your family situation. If you are married, the decision generally falls on your spouse. If you are a minor, your parents make the decisions. But what if you are not married and over the age of 18? In that case, no one can make that decision for you. Instead, the doctors attending your care generally administer medicine that would be in your best interest.

But leaving care in the hands of doctors, strangers, is rarely in the best interest of you or your family. Let’s consider this extreme example: Suppose you develop brain cancer but are unaware of it. One day, the tumor induces a coma, where you are then raced to the hospital. There, the doctors discovered the cancer. Unfortunately, there are no FDA-approved treatments for your brain cancer. The doctors estimate you only have six (6) months left to live and will not awake from your coma during that time. But the doctors know promising clinical trials conducted by two local universities that need volunteer patients. However, the patients for these trials must consent as there are possible adverse side effects. You won’t be able to volunteer because you are in a coma and failed to designate healthcare power of attorney before you went into the coma.

To avoid the situation described above, you will need to designate a health care power of attorney and a health care directive. Let’s say you have a trusted friend that knows you well. You want your friend to act as your health care power of attorney, and she agrees to act as your power of attorney should you become incapacitated. This is a good start because your trusted friend knows you well and probably has a good idea of what decisions you would make if you were conscious. But I wouldn’t leave it to her alone. By also excusing a health care directive, you will instruct your friend what your wishes are.

Considering the above example again. If you suffer a coma from brain cancer, your health care directive might say something like, “take the most aggressive medical procedures available regardless of the possible negative side-effects, and I consent to any clinal trials amiable.” By doing so, you take the guesswork away from your trusted friend. Conversely, perhaps you are older and do not wish to undergo aggressive medical producers. In that case, you can note as such.

Note: Another important consideration is who makes your children’s health care decisions after they turn 18. Generally, children consult their parents’ advice for some years after they are 18. But suppose they have not executed a medical power of attorney. In that case, you will not be able to make such decisions if they are incapacitated. Thus it’s an excellent idea to have your children execute the appropriate documents.

Considering what medical decisions you wish to make upon incapacitation depends almost entirely on your specific health concerns and family dynamics. Your age is also significant. If you are middle-aged and generally in good health, this is not a priority. However, if you have any kind of medical issue, then it is much more critical. Take the time to talk to your loved ones and doctors about situations that may arise in your life. Then an attorney can assist in drafting an effective health care power of attorney and health care directive.

If you would like to set up a health care power of attorney and health care directive in Las Vegas or anywhere in Nevada, set up your free consultation with Joe Dragon.

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