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Advance Directives Can Protect All Kinds of Patients from Pain and Suffering

December 11th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. Advance directives allow patients to make decisions about their long-term care. According to a properly executed advance directive can tell doctors and your family what you want, so that should you become too ill to make decisions for yourself, doctors and family know what your wishes would be. Advance directives can provide detailed information about whether you would want dialysis, want to be on a breathing machine, or want to be tube fed, should you become too ill to make these decisions for yourself. An advance directive can also provide doctors with information about whether you want to donate organs.

Advance directives are often drafted by older Americans, or by individuals with chronic or terminal illnesses, like cancer. Yet, more recently, mental health patients with serious conditions have also been drafting advance directives, according to the New York Times. Mental health patients face unique challenges because when they experience a psychotic break or a crisis, they may not always be able to advocate for themselves. If doctors who are unfamiliar with their condition encounter them in the emergency room, they can sometimes do more harm than good. For example, some kinds of psychiatric medications can become ineffective if discontinued. Other patients’ conditions can be made worse by being placed in involuntary commitment wards.

A psychiatric advance directive can be a kind of living medical treatment plan that allows patients to provide information to doctors and emergency personnel. Mental health treatment is one area where every patient is truly unique. Finding the right balance of medication, therapies, and services can take years and that balance can be disrupted if a patient is given the wrong treatment or is taken off medication that had been working.

So, what rights do you have if you or a loved one is a mental health patient? First, you have the right to receive adequate medical care. If you believe that a doctor’s decision worsened your condition, you may be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are medical malpractice lawyers who assist victims in New Orleans, Louisiana who may have suffered as a result of involuntary commitment or because they received treatment without their consent.

Mental health medicine is a unique field because in many cases, when patients become too ill to advocate for themselves, they are often near death. Mental health patients can experience episodes where they may not be able to advocate for themselves for several weeks, but otherwise they are entirely healthy. This is why protecting these patient’s legal rights is paramount. Medicare and Medicaid have increased their requirements for hospitals to ask patients if they have advance directives in place. According to the Times, some patients register their advance directives with state databases to ensure that doctors get the information.

Advance directives also ensure that trusted family or friends can help make decisions for the patient in the event of a crisis. Patient privacy laws can often interfere with a patient’s treatment because doctors often won’t speak to family or loved ones, citing privacy laws. With an advance directive in place, family can help. You can also visit here to learn more

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a hospital setting, consider speaking to the The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm today. Our medical malpractice attorneys are here to help.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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