A Power of Attorney For Healthcare tells the doctor who should make medical decisions in the event you are unable to do that yourself. The problem is that there could be a gap between your medical emergency and the healthcare provider’s ability to contact your POA. What if your POA isn’t around or reachable when you stop breathing or in that moment of a heart attack when a decision has to be made? What then? A delay in treatment can make a big difference in how you spend the balance of your days on earth.
That’s why in addition to your POAs (and your will), you need to take one more step to make sure your wishes are followed in the event of a medical emergency. You need an “Advance Directive,” also called a POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). The Illinois POLST is designed to help a person with an advanced illness and his or her physician craft a plan of action in the event of an emergency. The Illinois POLST identifies a person’s healthcare wishes prior to a life-threatening emergency and acts as a physician order. It protects a person’s wishes in all settings (i.e. hospital, home, nursing home.) By Illinois law, healthcare providers must do what your POLST says.
Having a prepared and signed POLST puts you in charge of the kind of treatment you want and fills the gap between your ability to verbally express your will to a medical provider and the moment when it becomes necessary for your POA for Healthcare to take over.