April 6, 2011 – The State Bar’s Health and Elder Law sections remind lawyers about an annual opportunity to promote advance care planning in our communities and state. April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day. In recognition of the event, the State Bar is offering free electronic copies of its consumer guide, A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs, from April 8 - 25. For the entire month of April, members can purchase print copies of the guide for $1.
An estimated 80 percent of Wisconsin residents,including 50 percent of those with severe or terminal illnesses, have not completed an advance directive documenting their preferences about issues surrounding end-of-life decisions. In his gubernatorial proclamation, Scott Walker encourages all residents to have important personal conversations with family, friends, and health care providers to prepare for eventual end-of-life care and treatment options and to complete reliable advance directives.
“The Health and Elder Law sections are proudly participating in this event along with a broad array of other organizations,” says Ben Adams, Elder Law Section past chair. “We hope that you will participate with us to raise awareness about these important issues across the country. In its first three years, National Health Care Decisions Day enjoyed participation by hundreds of national, state, and local organizations, and hundreds of thousands of people learned more about – and took action – on advance directives. Please help us ensure that the State Bar is well represented at the local level on April 16.” To assist in this effort, a host of outreach materials and suggestions are available on the National Health Care Decisions Day website.
Under Wisconsin law competent adults have the right to control decisions about their future medical care, including the right to accept or refuse treatment, and the right to be an organ and tissue donor. A Gift to Your Family offers practical insights on a range of issues surrounding end-of-life decisions, such as power of attorney for health care, living wills, and organ and tissue donation. The guide also includes state forms to help people put their wishes in writing.
“The Health Law Section supports the National Health Care Decisions Day Initiative,” says Section chair Barbara Zabawa. “Health Law Section members might want to consider informing their health care clients about the tools provided by the State Bar. Clients may appreciate the additional resources for their patients.”
Special offers available in April
The State Bar is offering free electronic access to A Gift for Your Family. “We hope this offer will make that process a bit easier for Wisconsin residents who want to ensure that others aren’t burdened with having to make difficult decisions for them,” says Adams. Free copies will be available for downloading between April 8 and April 25 at WisBar’s life planning web page.
State Bar members also can purchase print copies of A Gift for Your Family for $1 each, plus tax, shipping, and handling, from April 1 to April 30. To receive this special offer, call the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or (608) 257-3838. Members should use code CP331when ordering their copies.
The 28-page A Gift to Your Family, now in its sixth printing, initially was produced in 2000 through a partnership with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center. In 2006, the State Bar Communications Committee partnered with the Wisconsin Hispanic Lawyers Association to make the guide available in Spanish. Since 2000, the State Bar has distributed more than 500,000 planning guides to hospitals, clinics, lawyers, and the public.