BRUNSWICK, Georgia: April 6, 2012 - When is the right time to name someone
to speak for you in case of a serious illness? The answer, of course,
is when you’re in good health. However, most people are reluctant
to talk about their medical wishes for serious illness or end of life.
Unfortunately, this can result in family conflict and confusion at a time
when you cannot speak for yourself.
In observance of National Healthcare Decisions Day, Southeast Georgia Health
System’s Medical Ethics Advisory Committee will host an informative
program titled “Advance Planning for Important Healthcare Decisions”
on Mon., April 16, 6-7 p.m., in the Linda S. Pinson Conference Center,
Room 1, on the Brunswick Campus, 2415 Parkwood Drive. Speakers will present
on the topic and will also be available for a question and answer session.
“We encourage all adults, regardless of age or current health, to
consider what their health care choices would be if they were unable to
speak for themselves, and then make certain their choices are followed
by completing an Advance Health Care Directive,” says Amy S. Wasdin,
R.N., MBA, CPHRM, director, Risk Management, at Southeast Georgia Health
System. “Planning health care decisions in advance helps you make
an informed, thoughtful decision when you are not under any pressure."
Wasdin says that people have the right to control their health care options,
such as exercising the right to choose in advance whether to accept life-sustaining
As director of the Health System’s critical care services, Jan Jones,
R.N., is all too familiar with the choices that family members are sometimes
forced to make.
“An advance directive is your life on your terms,” Jones says.
“Whether you're 18 or 80, there’s a risk that an accident
or illness could affect your health. Documenting your wishes will make
it easier for family to do what they know their loved one wants done.”
Under Georgia state law, adults have the legal right to express their health
care wishes and to have them followed. Many people operate under the mistaken
impression that it suffices to tell friends and relatives how they wish
their care to be managed if they are in a life-threatening situation.
However, unless a patient’s wishes have been put in writing, family
and/or friends present at the time will be required to help make critical
health care decisions with the medical team. In these instances, decisions
may be based on the family members’ religious or cultural beliefs,
or grief, rather than on the patient’s wishes.
“We encourage everyone to talk with their family, friends, and doctor,”
Wasdin says. “They should know their options, decide what’s
right for them, and then put it in writing. Legally communicating wishes
about end-of-life care will ensure that patients face the end of their
lives with dignity and with the same values by which they have lived.”
Georgia law requires certain provisions be included in the advance health
care directive, including witness signatures by two people who are not
named in the document, for it to be valid.
Advance health care directives will be available at the lecture and are
also available at the Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick
and Camden campuses.
Once the advance health care directive is completed, individuals should
store the document in a safe and easily accessible place, and provide
copies to their physician, family and close friends.
For more information, please call the Risk Management Department at Southeast
Georgia Health System at 912-466-3261.