I seem to collect Advance Medical Directive (AMD) stories. Weird?? Yeah, I know. But bear with me for a minute of two:
A colleague recently told me about a friend who was rushed to his local hospital with a severe heart condition. The doctors asked whether he had an advance medical directive. “Yes,” he barely replied since he was sedated at the time. “Who’s your health care proxy?” his doctor then inquired. The patient gave the name of a former neighbor who had moved to a different city 10 years earlier. The doctor finally tracked down the former neighbor and asked him whether he would be available should the patient’s condition worsen.
The former neighbor asked, “Who is this?” The doctor explained that his former neighbor was in local hospital’s ICU, and the medical staff needed the name of the patient’s health care proxy.
The former neighbor could barely recall the patient, his name, or how long ago they were neighbors. Needless to state, the former neighbor told the doctor that he would not take such responsibility for a person he hardly remembered.
OK. This sounds rare. But consider whether you, your children, others in your family, and circle of friends have an AMD? Have they named a proxy whom they trust to make critical decisions if things head south? Have they discussed their wishes with that person?.
April 16 is national Health Care Decisions Day. A dedicated physician and medical ethicist* – Dr. Nathan Kottkamp — has made it his life work to ensure that we are prepared for the fateful time when we may need someone to stand-in for us if we cannot make life or death decisions for ourselves.
Following are some web-based resources for AMD’s. PLEASE look them over. Review your own AMD, if you have one. Is it current? Have you discussed its provisions and your wishes with your proxy? (Not a former neighbor but someone close to you.) Don’t let more time slip by.
*Correction: Nathan Kottkamp is an attorney, not a doctor or an ethicist.