May 17, 2016 Though a healthcare directive is a very important legal document, it’s not the only one you need to ensure that your wishes are followed when you’re unable to make your own healthcare decisions. A recent Forbes article noted that hospitals affiliated with religious organizations may not honor a patient’s healthcare directive if parts of it conflict with the hospital’s own rules regarding hot button issues. You need to have a representative ready to advocate for your rights if something unexpected like that happens while you’re unconscious or unable to speak for yourself. A Healthcare Power of Attorney Can Save Time Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), physicians and providers can only share or discuss health care information with people who are authorized to receive it. If you are incapacitated in some way, your treatment may be delayed while providers attempt to determine who they can talk to about your care. Since time is of the essence in many medical situations, it’s best to have a healthcare power of attorney in addition to a healthcare directive. Naming one person to act as your representative can also prevent possible strife and infighting among your family members who may disagree as to the best approach to your care. A Healthcare Power of Attorney Gives You Control. A healthcare power of attorney also allows you to choose who will make healthcare decisions for you. You may prefer to name a family member or friend who has medical knowledge or works well under pressure rather than your closest kin. Be careful to pick someone who is responsible and knows your wishes. Remember, the healthcare power of attorney is only in effect when you are unable to make important healthcare decisions for yourself; you can override it as soon as you are able to speak for yourself again. However, your representative needs to be someone you can trust, as they literally will be making life and death decisions for you while you are unreachable. It’s also a good idea to choose at least one backup representative as well, in case the first person is unavailable. Contact an Experienced Washington State Attorney An attorney can help you navigate these difficult decisions, prepare the necessary documents for you and help you plan for the future. If you have any questions, contact attorney Dan Kellogg at (425) 227-8700.