Do you know what "ICE" Means?

ICE = "In Case of Emergency" - this is the CODE WORD you should have in your Cell Phone to assist rescue personnel to find a family member should you be incapacitated in an accident.

Also, in these days of HIPAA, do you have your final wishes determined? No, I don't just mean a will - wills are all about the financial stuff.

With many couples living together if you are not legally married (and many states are outlawing "common law") the person who is your life partner will not be seen as such by the courts or a hospital if a family member wants to override the situation.

The family member will be seen as the primary contact and decider not the person they've been living with for years. Plus not being named in the Medical Directives or Power of Attorney can legally prevent a hospital from allowing you to be at your loved one's side or to even share diagnosis.

This is taking the time to look at your mortality and choices: do a GOOGLE search and find Advanced Medical Directives and Power of Attorney forms for your state (they do vary) and read and make decisions. Often the form must be signed by a notary (usually free at any bank).

This is important so you designate who will speak for you, and also your choices about whether to have physicians keep trying or to give you palliative care after a life-changing event.

MAKE SURE you tell someone! Keep a copies of both forms with you when you travel (I keep ours in our glove box), give copies to your physicians, and tell your family your final wishes - so they will be respected.

In the event you also wish to be an organ donor, it is simple to get the information on your driver's license, but tell someone so they can respect that wish as well.

I am not trying to be a "downer" just taking a moment to be a realist since so many of us blithely go through life without making sure these things are done - it is for peace of mind and to keep that final heart-breaking decision "off" your loved ones.

Submitted by Beverly. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the post. Just FYI if you want to be an organ donor and have signed the back of your drivers license this is enough to make sure that your wish will be upheld. Even if the license is expired you will still be allowed to donate your organs. This is still true if a love one objects to you donating.
As far as making sure any heroic measures will not be taken if something happens to you. Put it in writing and make sure everyone close to you knows your wishes. So they can be respected. If a spouse, child, or close friend trys to go against your wishes. Your wishes will be upheld if they are in writing no matter what. If you are married your spouse will make the decision for you, then it goes to the eldest child. If you are a adult who is not married with no children. usually your parents would decide. If not a brother or sister. If neither of these apply. A close friend can make a decision on your behalf if they have knowledge about what you would of wanted.

Beverly said...

Technically the organ donation is not always followed in every state with just a signature. I wrote this since I am a Defensive Driving instructor and one of the portions of our class is about the legal/ethical issues when someone is severly injured or killed from a motor vehicle accident.

It is always best to get it all in writing, use the Advanced Medical Directives form for your state - especially since YOU need to see the language on it and UNDERSTAND it fully - discuss it with your physician and your family/close friends.

I was in a situation where my father had said "no heroic measures" and I had to use his Advanced Directives as the guide to the decision even as the doctors were pushing for something else... friends were pushing us to "save him save him" when his outcome would have been against his wishes.

It was hard to say no to those people, but his directives guided me with his voice to speak for him. Same for my mother when she was left near-vegatative after emergency brain surgery, I followed their requests both medically and in their final resting places.

It ain't easy. But there is always a chance something might happen, and we all want to have the final word - I think.

Chris said...

The suggestion of multiple copies of the advance directive is an excellent one. For my father we were unable to locate the most recent direct until about 2 weeks after it was needed. Forunately, we did have a copy of his trust that included it. It was the old, obselete form but it did work under the circumstances.

dirtydisher said...

Man, that was a needed post for everyone. It's been 6 months since my son passed away and he left no will. I can't tell you how awful fighting for finacial rights are when you are so heart broken. Just make a will. Please.

Jennifer said...

Does anyone know if Jon and Kate have revised their will? As I recall (California trip with the twins) they sat down with a lawyer and named either Beth/Bob or Kevin/Jodi as guardians to the children. Just wondering if this has changed, in light of "cutting" them out of their lives.

AmandaT said...

Thank you for bringing up a very important point. Advanced directives are very important - just having the conversation with your loved ones is huge. Make sure they know where you stand, and have several copies with trusted family members, your primary care doctor (you do have a PMD, right? also very important!!), and your lawyer if you have one.
As far as the ICE things goes ... I'm a paramedic and an ER nurse. I've worked all over the country, and we don't look at people's phones for ICE. Maybe somewhere down the line a social worker might. But it is not something that emergency personnel do, contrary to the popular myth. A better plan is to have a small card in your wallet that includes: name, address, emergency contact, medical problems, med allergies, your PMD, current medications that you take. These are the things we really need to know right away.
As far as organ donation, yes, have that on your ID and in your advanced directive. However, organ donation networks will not take organs without the express permission of next of kin. Even if you have documented and notarized out the wazoo, they just won't do it. They don't want to be looked at as vultures, as that will discourage families from consenting to donate. The best thing you can do is to tell your next of kin how important organ donation is, and how strongly you feel about it.

Anonymous said...

FYI -- having a medical power of attorney is very important, even if you are married. Case in point -- my husband and i lived together 8 years before we were married. 2 months after we were married he was in a car accident and in a coma, i was making all medical descidions. UNTIL a parent of his who didnt approve of our relationship, showed up, went to medical social services, and said that we were seperated and he was going to seek and anulment, and that i was not fit to make medical descisions or even see him, that is not what he would want. I did NOT have a medical power of attorney for him. IMMEDIATLY i was takend down to medical social services. With the legal department rep there.. i had to have his other parent, step parent, sister, brother, sister in law vouch that this was all bogus. It ended up fine, HOWEVER it was the last thing i needed to deal with at that time, and IF i HAD a medical POA, there wouldnt have been such an issue. Today, DH and I both have medical power of attorneys and had my parents, and his "good" set of parents be our witnesses just to clarify. I hope this doesnt happen to anyone, i cant stress how imprtant they are.

Anonymous said...

Also.... i forgot.. ICE does work. I was my husbands ICE and they called me firts. i was later told that had they not seen ICE they would have called the contacts labled HOME MOM or DAD. Usually a person doesnt have their significant other listed as "wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend" in their contacts.. just as their name.. it works well

erin said...

No offense, but please do not take legal advice from the internet, including this site. If you want these documents please speak with a qualified attorney who practices in estate planning. I cannot tell you how many times cases have come through my office were someone has tried to do their own directives and have done something incorrectly and their wishes were not followed.

Anonymous said...

You can go to your Local Hospitals and ask your family doctor for information. My husband and i had ours done in a conference room, most larger hospitals have some of their social workers as notary. They make you 5 copies each, and keep one for them self. Our hospital is part of the Mayo Health System, so any Mayo affiliate we would go to can access a copy if we dont have them with. It too us about 10 mintues to do ours, with very little discussion, we were both aware of each other's wishes. We werent prepared to appoint a secondary power of attourney though, so that was most the discussion. It was very simple, but it was for medical only. This was our expierience anyway.

Anonymous said...

I copied my former boss's legal Advanced Directive verbatim and substituted my name and had it signed and dated and notorized. I know it's legit because his lawyer wrote up his papers and I thought that I should have my own as well. So, I just copied it on the computer for my own use.