Post submitted by Marcos R. Garcia, Senior Manager, Health and Aging Program
In some healthcare emergencies, you may be unable to make decisions about the healthcare you receive or the visitors by your side. Today, April 16, we pause for National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), a day to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.
Advance Healthcare Directives are legal documents where you can assign your surrogate (someone who will make your healthcare decisions for you), confirm what visitors you’d like by your side and express your wishes for the type of care you would like to receive in certain situations. Federal regulations require hospitals to defer to the surrogate of your choice—including same-sex partners—in the case of incapacitation (when you can’t do it yourself). However, if you do not have the appropriate healthcare directives in place, hospitals will turn to “default surrogate selection priority lists” (which vary state-to-state) and assign a surrogate for you.
Advance care planning is so important, particularly for the LGBT community. We have all heard terrible stories of our loved ones being shut out of our care, but now, thanks to the ruling by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, marriage equality is in all 50 states. This is important because a patient’s spouse is always at the top of state default surrogate lists. However, for unmarried LGBT individuals, advance healthcare directives provide healthcare providers with your healthcare decision wishes and your visitation requests, when you need them most.
We encourage you to visit this page to find a variety of resources to help you get started on protecting your visitation and decision making rights. In addition to encouraging individuals to make their wishes known, HRC works with hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country through our Healthcare Equality Index to implement policies and practices to ensure that the facilities staff understands that LGBT patient care wishes must be respected.
Take advantage of Nationals Healthcare Decisions Day today to make sure, incase of an emergency, that your patient healthcare wishes are known.