Tag Archives: funeral arrangements

Health Care Directives


Living Wills and Health Care Power of Attorney forms are two common health care directives.    Here are some other health care directives you should know about:

Q. Why do you need a DNR?

A. A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is a request not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops or if you stop breathing.   Unless paramedics or other emergency staff are given other instructions, paramedics and hospital staff will try to resuscitate a patient whose heart has stopped or who has stopped breathing.


Q. Why do you need to complete a living will and a DNR?

A. The directions in your living will are only followed when your doctor believes you are in a terminal state and will not recover from your illness or injury.   The directions in your DNR are effective the moment you sign them and do not require any type of medical condition to be present for the DNR to be effective.

Elderly people sometimes want a DNR if they suffer from chronic illness and are concerned that their quality of life will suffer if they require resuscitation.


Q. What happens if the paramedics do not know you have completed a DNR?

A. If the paramedics or other medical personnel cannot locate your DNR, they will make an effort to save your life.


Q. How can you help the paramedics make the right treatment choices.

A. You can help the paramedics in several ways.

  • Participate in the Vial of Life program, a nationwide effort to assist emergency personnel administer proper medical treatment for you when you can’t speak for yourself.
    • A  vial of life sticker is placed on your door.  This sticker tells the paramedic to look for your DNR and other medical information in a vial placed in your refrigerator.
  • Some people recommend storing the DNR in the freezer in a blue bag, as paramedics are trained to look in the freezer for DNR documents stored in a blue bag.
  • Some states authorize the use of identification bracelets or tags as a way  to notify medical personnel that you have signed a DNR.


Q. What is HIPPA?

A. HIPPA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act passed in 2003.  In an effort to protect our privacy, HIPPA restricts the freedom of medical care providers to share medical information about you without your consent.

The provisions of HIPPA give you the right to view information contained in your medical records and to designate other persons with whom your medical information may be shared.


Q. What if you have not completed a HIPPA form giving someone the right to view our medical records?

A. Without a written authorization from you, medical professionals and medical facilities fact stiff penalties for violating HIPPA.

Without advanced authorization by you, your health care agent, spouse, family and others will not be able to access your medical records to make an informed decisions about the best plan of care for you.

FACT.  HIPPA and adult children

If an adult has a child attending college, they should consider having the child sign a HIPPA form giving their parent the right to access their medical records.   Otherwise, if the student is in an accident, the parent may not have the right to iew the child’s medical records to make decisions about their care.


Q. What is In Case of Emergency (ICE)?

A. If you are in a car accident or other accident requiring unexpected medical care, the physicians and emergency personnel must find a way to contact someone regarding your medical emergency.  Time is important.  Some medical procedures require authorization from a spouse or a health care agent before treatment can begin.  A shorthand process has been developed to facilitate this communication process, referred to as ICE.

Q. How does ICE work?

A.  ICE reflects the list of persons who you want contacted in case of an emergency.   This list of persons and their telephone numbers is stored on your cell phone.   The steps are as follows:

  • Decide whom you want contacted in case of emergency
  • Enter ICE as the contact name in your cell phone contact list
  • Add the phone number of the person ou want called in case of emergency
  • If you want to name more than one person, make an ICE1 and ICE2 entry in your contact list.

Paramedics and other emergency responders are trained to examine your cell phone and look under “ICE” for information on who to contact.


Maybe you can’t buy a casket online – in Georgia!

Costco has been selling caskets over the internet for the last five years. But, because of regulations that make a sale in that state unattractive, they are not selling them in Georgia.

As soon as Walmart recently announced that they are also going to be selling caskets online, they received a letter from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. That letter told them that they are required to register with the state if they want to sell funeral merchandise and, until that process has been completed, they cannot sell caskets in Georgia.

So if you live in Georgia and want to buy a casket, at least for now you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way – buy it from a casket store or a funeral parlor. You won’t be able to buy it from Costco or Walmart online.

The Funeral


The decedent may have named a funeral agent to be in charge of their funeral.   If not, state statutes determine who has the legal authority to make choices regarding the disposition of the body and where to bury the remains.

When planning a funeral, there are critical choices the person in charge of the funeral will need to make.  Hopefully, the decedent left instructions on how to dispose of his or her body and where to bury the remains.  Otherwise, the family will need to makes these decisions in a very short time.

Read the Saying Goodbye section for more information.