If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If you’re unconscious and nobody knows where your healthcare documents are, are they worth anything?
The answer to the first: of course. The answer to the second: of course not.
Consider that if someone had found Terri Schiavo’s healthcare directive, none of us would have ever heard of her.
And really, if you’re unconscious or in incredible pain, that’s not the time to start explaining where to find the paper with your healthcare preferences and wishes.
Give ‘em to your doctor? Not a great idea. If you become ill one night or weekend, nobody’s in the office to pull your file, find where the document is stashed, print out a copy and fax it to the right nurse’s station. Even in daytime, your healthcare papers will never be on the top of your file.
The literally-cold facts. Your neighbor and mine, Ed Barber, an Emergency Medical Technician with Dawson County’s EMS, says that one of the first things EMTs do after arriving at your house here in Big Canoe is to raid the freezer.
It’s not because they’re hungry.
They are looking for a plastic bag you put there which holds essential healthcare information. In a flash the EMTs will know doctors and hospitals you prefer, allergies, recent medical problems, and more.
All of this information can be listed on the ingenious form created by the Big Canoe H.O.A. If you haven’t completed one, you can find the form online at http://bigcanoehoa.org/images/stories/pdf/medinfo.pdf. If you’re not a computer person, call us at 404.256.0020 and we’ll get you a copy.
Use a bigger baggie. The new Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare belongs in the plastic bag, too. Or at least include the recent but stark Healthcare Power of Attorney.
My living will, too? Best to update to the new Advance Directive if you still have a living will. The living will is an antiquated document. Most official living wills — including Georgia’s — did not give the person you named the authority to act for you. What’s the point of expressing your wishes without authorizing someone to act on your behalf? Living wills are also extremely limited in scope.
What about D.N.R. orders? You can’t get a “Do Not Resuscitate” order with a snap of your fingers. You can consent to a D.N.R. order, or authorize one, but your physician has to actually issue it. Then the Order sits, waiting for the circumstance where it might be needed. There’s even an identifying bracelet you should get. (More on D.N.R. Orders another day.)
In the end: it’s a great idea to put your D.N.R. order in that freezer baggie, too.
Any room left for ice cream in the freezer? Of course: especially if you tape the baggie to a side wall in the freezer, like the H.O.A. form suggests. It’s only one plastic bag holding a bunch of folded-up papers.
The EMT people really look for the bag? They really do. And if you tell your immediate family about it, they could get to it, too, in an emergency.