An Advanced Medical Directive empowers you to make choices about your life.
Writing a will is a common practice and most of us command our possessions to our dear ones from a young age. But only few leave advanced directives for such situations when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. This is in part due to the emotional baggage that accompanies the topic.
In order to facilitate the issue, Shaare Zedek Medical Center's Social Services created a special kit with instructions and a "Power of Attorney for Medical Treatment" form.
"We see many cases where a legal guardian needs to be appointed for patients whose medical state prevents them from making informed decisions about their medical care – prolonging of life, resuscitation and the likes", explains Amalia Oren, Director of Social Services at Shaare Zedek. "In such cases family members have to appeal to the court to be granted power of attorney. To spare them this anguished process and the need to deal with complicated and sometimes critical decisions, we encourage the public to sign a power of attorney in advance".
The law stipulates that the patient must give informed consent for any medical procedure. The law also enables a patient to appoint a representative that will be authorized to give consent in his place.
Such an appointment is done by a special power-of-attorney and it relates to future care, planned or critical, when the patient won't be able to express their opinion about the offered treatment. A power-of-attorney allows them to appoint a trusted person while they are still of sound mind and give advanced instructions about medical care and quality of life.
Shaare Zedek's social workers are available to assist any patient who wishes to sign this document. They offer explanations and help filling in the form when needed. "We suggest starting the conversation from the easier issues", explains Ms. Oren. "First examine issues such as consent in case of surgery or treatment and play out a simulation that examines questions such as 'what if I am injured in a car accident and need emergency surgery'. After that you can move on to more complex issues such as life preservation, artificial feeding and resuscitation if the patient reaches a terminal state and becomes dependent on others. We recommend that every adult signs a power-of-attorney to guaranty that their wishes be fulfilled to the maximum while sparing their loved ones from making hard choices".