Your Patient Rights

Have you had a surgery recently in a hospital or a clinic? Did you receive a paper that stated your rights as a patient before your surgery? Patient rights vary from state to state, so you may or may not receive information about your rights (or responsibilities) as a patient. For instance, if you live in Tennessee, you may receive notice that a facility will not honor DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders, but that they may honor a healthcare power of attorney.

Public Opinion Polls and End-of-Life Decisions

Have you thought more about end-of-life decisions since the recent debate over health care? While some individuals claim that the health care bill (or variations of that bill) carry information about ‘death panels,’ you can rest assured that this term is not used in any terminology.

Some Terms to Define Advance Directives

The following definitions are used by the American Hospital Association to define terms used in and about advance directives. These terms, which are part of a brochure provided to help patients, families and the hospitals that serve them, presents key resources to enhance educational efforts and to raise awareness around the important issue of advance directives.

The Pitfalls of Joint Tenancy

One way many people use to try to avoid probate after death is joint tenancy, which is a way to own property with someone else. Joint tenancy – also known as survivorship – is a legal term that means, basically, co-ownership. If you and your spouse buy a house or automobile in both names and one of you dies, the property then automatically falls into the hands of the survivor who has the name on the property.

Government Web Sites on Aging

Are you afraid of getting older? Are you unsure about what opportunities might be available to your or your loved ones who also are aging? While many people seem to be distrustful of the government, the U.S. government has produced some insightful Web sites that deal with aging. These sites are listed below, along with information about what they offer to the aging discussion nationwide:

What is a Living Will?

A living will is a written document that you can create that allows you to state your wishes in advance about the use of life-prolonging medical care if you become seriously ill or incapacitated. While many people think this document is about authorizing abandonment by the medical system, a living will also can be used to state a desire to receive medical treatment that will sustain life. In all cases, the living will comes into effect only when you would die without life-sustaining medical treatment.

Access to Autopsy Records

How can you tell if an autopsy was conducted on an ancestor? Or, if you plan to conduct research on health, environment and correlations, can you use autopsy records for your work? Autopsy records in hospitals, medical examiner and coroner’s offices are usually kept for decades or longer. While family members can request and expect to obtain a copy of the autopsy report many years later, it may be difficult to obtain some autopsy records depending upon what you plan to do with those records. Some states require that the next-of-kin family member make the request.

On Sale! Cemetery Plots

Hard times may bring harsh measures, and – according to this Washington Post article – people have resorted to selling their cemetery plots at reduced prices to help make ends meet. On one hand, this attempt to sell plots at reduced prices means now is the time to snatch up some cemetery property. On the other hand, if you were making a decision for a full-body donation or cremation and you no longer needed your plot, this is not the time to sell to see a profit or to break even.

End of Life Decisions: It’s not a death panel

One of the hardest things you may ever do in life is agree to a loved one’s wish to die. My father, who had a heart attack that nearly took his life fifteen years ago, wishes my mother had not brought him back to life with CPR. But, she could not let him go, and he never made his wishes known in a living will before this near-fatal experience. His decision to avoid that document was based upon lack of knowledge which could have been provided by his physician.

The Differences Between Organ and Full-Body Donations

Are you planning to donate your body to science when you die? Or, are you planning to be an organ donor? While both plans are noble, there is a vast difference between full- or whole-body donations and organ donations. The difference may be enough to foil your death care plans for yourself, and it may cost your family some money in the long run. To that end, the following information may help you make more detailed plans for the disposal of your body once you die.