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The dangers of ignoring advanced directives

So long as people have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves, health care providers should respect their requests for medical treatment. Using an advanced directive allows people to maintain control over the types of medical attention they receive or do not receive when they reach a point of incapacitation.

If placed in a nursing home, residents and their families should inform caregivers of advanced directives.

Compromised trust

Nursing homes promise to provide residents with compassionate, personalized and prompt medical care. For residents with advanced directives, nursing home staff must understand and honor specific instructions regarding medical care. According to FloridaHealthFinder.gov, incapacitation can happen suddenly or gradually.

When facility staff ignore personal requests for medical care, they compromise the trust of both the patient and those who care about them. This behavior qualifies as abuse and can set the foundation for other forms of maltreatment including delayed care. If care staff ever question what patients would want, they should contact family members to get clarification. Because emergency response situations can happen suddenly, care staff should understand patient preferences long before they need such information.

Emotional distress

Another danger of ignoring advance directives is that it can cause emotional distress for patients needing medical care. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, a startling 38 percent of patients with some form of advanced directive requesting limited care, were receiving treatment that contradicted their preferences. Studies also suggested that unwanted intensive care caused significant emotional distress and lacked effectiveness.

The effects reach further and can put undue financial strain on family tasked with funding ongoing care that goes against their loved one’s wishes. Nursing home facilities in violation of residents’ advance care directives or personal preferences for medical care could face serious consequences.

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