FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 13, 2018
State Bar of Wisconsin
April 15-21 Proclaimed Healthcare Decisions Week in Wisconsin
Madison, WI – Gov. Scott Walker has officially proclaimed April 15–21 as Healthcare Decisions Week in Wisconsin. Healthcare Decisions Week reminds people to complete an advance directive documenting their preferences about issues surrounding end–of–life decisions.
Under Wisconsin law, competent adults have the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, and the right to be an organ and tissue donor. 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.
“Due to accidents or illness, three out of four people will be unable to make some or all of their medical decisions at the end of life,” said Attorney Ben Adams, advisor to the State Bar of Wisconsin Elder Law Section. “If this happens to you, doctors need to know who can make decisions for you.”
Adams said that a medical decision–maker needs to have some idea of who the patient is and what his or her values are in order to make decisions on the patient’s behalf.
“If you haven’t named someone in a healthcare power of attorney document and you become incapacitated or incompetent, then it’s likely that a court proceeding will be needed to appoint a medical decision–maker for you,” Adams said. “But the court process can be avoided in most cases if you do advanced care planning.”
The State Bar has also made its newly updated consumer guide, A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs,available for free downloading through April 21. 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 24–pageA Gift to Your Family, now in its eighth printing, initially was produced in 2000 through a partnership with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center. The State Bar Communications Committee later partnered with the Wisconsin Hispanic Lawyers Association to make the guide available in Spanish.