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The ultimate 'selfie': video record your health care wishes

By Suzana Popovic-Montag

In an ideal situation, if you suffer a health crisis, you’ll be able to communicate your health care preferences directly to your doctors or hospital staff. But if you’re not able to communicate your health care wishes, you need someone to do that on your behalf.

Enter the Power of Attorney for Personal Care (or a similar health care directive document specified by your province). This document typically describes your health care preferences in end of life situations and also names a substitute decision-maker to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you’re no longer able to.

This decision maker will look to your stated health care preferences in making decisions, but as you can imagine, it’s impossible to anticipate every medical situation. Canadian Virtual Hospice has an excellent article on the advantages and limitations of health care directives. To make the most of what a directive can do, Dying With Dignity has a very thorough planning kit that’s tailored to the requirements of each province:

Video option – the unselfish selfie

In addition to, or instead of, paper-based health care instructions, a recent U.S. article highlighted some reasons why a video directive may be a powerful tool in helping doctors and substitute decision makers arrive at an appropriate course of treatment.

A Texas-based company, MyDirectives, has developed a website and a smartphone app to help people record videos and upload them to an online cloud that doctors and loved ones can access with a code.

Let’s face it, in a medical emergency, there may be little or no opportunity to locate and read paper-based forms. But a video health care directive can be accessed bedside on a smartphone, with doctors, nurses and the substitute decision maker seeing firsthand the patient’s treatment preferences.

While video may not be a substitute for a written health care directive, it could offer powerful guidance in a difficult situation. Whether you record a video yourself or use a third-party provider, it’s an idea worth considering.

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