Safe health care awareness campaign focuses first on ensuring your treatment choices are respected.
It’s now more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began to change our world. 12 months in, our hospitals are still treating patients on respirators. They can’t speak. Some are dying.
Those who have prepared by naming a health care proxy or surrogate, or making a “living will” know that their wishes about their care will be respected. Those who haven’t prepared? Well, their treatment decisions are entirely up to others.
So, in April 2021, the TakeCHARGE Campaign focuses on #1 of its “5 Steps to Safer Health Care”: Understand and Complete Your Advance Directives.
What are “advance directives”? This is a catch-all term for several kinds of documents you can complete that define and protect your wishes about treatment, if you are unable to communicate. Some, like the “healthcare proxy” designate someone to make decisions on your behalf; others, such as a “living will”, specify your wishes when it comes to, for example, life-support, or organ donation.
Why does this matter? Take the example of Pat S., a 34-year-old father of two, who struggled with COVID-19 at home, but in the end found himself in the intensive care unit on a ventilator. Knowing that he was young and healthy, he had not prepared any advance directives, so here he was, unable to communicate about potentially life-and-death decisions.
In a Time of Crisis
Long-time patient advocate Ilene Corina, president of Pulse Center for Patient Safety, Education & Advocacy (http://pulsecenterforpatientsafety.org/) says, “In today’s crisis more than ever, we should ask ourselves:
- Breathing machines — would I want to be put on one and under what circumstances?
- Do I want to be free of all pain and get pain medication?
- Do I want to be part of medical research?
- Does my religion permit blood transfusions?
- What about organ or tissue donation
- Finally, who will speak for me if I can/t share this information with the medical team?”
“If you are 18 or over,” she adds, “you need to be prepared with your own decisions.”
You can learn more about the TakeCHARGE Step 1 here (https://takecharge.care/step-1/) (https://takecharge.care/step-1/). Also look for TakeCHARGE messages on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/takechargecampaign/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/TakechargeC), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/takechargecampaign5steps/) and LinkedIn (ttps://www.linkedin.com/in/takecharge-campaign-5160a31a3/)
For interviews or more information, please call (516) 579-4711.