Have Medical Directives Available When You Need Them

You have done your estate plan, including your medical directives. Of all your legal documents your medical directives are the only ones that you may need access to quickly in an emergency. It has been reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, living wills and other medical directives are not accessible in 74% of cases when needed in hospitals.

This means that three out of four people who take the time to complete their living wills and other medical directives are still not having their wishes heard You want to make sure that your documents to be readily available when needed so that your wishes are going to be followed. How do you do that?

I know some people that make copies of all of their medical documents, including their health care power of attorney/designation of patient advocate, living will, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorizations and other medical directives. They then put a set of copies in their nightstand by their bed, in the glove boxes of all their vehicles, in their purse and at the Florida condo. But that is a lot of paper. There has to be a better way.

And there is. It is a service called DocuBank®. With DocuBank, you have instant access to all your vital documents. DocuBank helps to make sure that the documents you’ve completed will be there when they are needed most. DocuBank provides you with an emergency card which makes your medical directives immediately accessible 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year, around the world.

On the front of your DocuBank emergency card, you can include the following:

  • Name and contact number for a primary emergency contact
  • Medical allergies
  • Medical conditions
  • Additional notes to hospital
  • Indication of medication list on file

If you are hospitalized, your DocuBank emergency card instructs hospital staff to call 800-DOCUBANK or go online to www.getdirectives.com any time, day or night to obtain your medical directives. DocuBank immediately transmits a copy of your documents along with all the additional information on file, anywhere in the world.

When a hospital calls into DocuBank, or goes online to obtain your information, they will receive a cover page listing your emergency contacts with phone numbers as well as your primary doctor so that they can be reached in an emergency. In addition, they will receive all of the following documents that you may have on file:

  • Health care power of attorney/designation of patient advocate
  • HIPAA authorizations
  • Organ donation form
  • Living will
  • Medication list
  • Designation of funeral representative

In our office, we include a one year DocuBank membership with every estate plan we do so that our clients can have the peace of mind that their documents will be available when they need them. DocuBank membership retail renewal rates are $55 for one year and $175 for five years. We have worked closely with DocuBank for a number of years. When we initiate a DocuBank membership from our office, our clients receive a special 40% discount off the retail membership renewal rates.

When I checked in at the hospital for my recent shoulder surgery, I provided my DocuBank emergency card to the admitting nurse. She was thrilled with the easy accessibility of my medical information and documents.

Your DocuBank membership also includes an online SAFE. This is a secure website where you can store all of your personal files in one location. This provides the convenience of having your important documents accessible anytime, anywhere in the world. These personal files can include:

  • Estate planning documents
  • Life insurance policies
  • Real estate documents
  • Digital asset list (online accounts and passwords)
  • Pictures

Your information and documents are stored safely in DocuBank’s system and available immediately by using your member number and PIN code located on your DocuBank emergency card. You can prevent the need for your loved ones to rummage through files trying to locate your information. I carry my DocuBank emergency card in my wallet next to my driver’s license and health insurance card.

If you have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order in place, in addition to carrying your DocuBank emergency card, you can also wear a special DNR bracelet that is specifically provided for in Michigan’s DNR statute. Once EMS or other health care professionals are given notice of your DNR order by the bracelet or otherwise, they “shall not attempt to resuscitate” you.

If you have medical directives, make sure they are available when you need them. One convenient way is through the DocuBank emergency card system. The quick access your DocuBank card provides can help eliminate confusion or delays in providing the treatment that you want, and it keeps loved ones by your side during a crisis. I encourage you to take advantage of this service.

By Matthew M. Wallace, CPA, JD

Published edited December 18, 2016 in The Times Herald newspaper Port Huron, Michigan as: Have medical directives available when you need them

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