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The Plain English Attorney

People are admitted to hospitals every day. Only occasionally do they have the proper healthcare documents needed to legally empower someone else to make decisions for them or even to choose ahead of time certain end of life decisions. So as part of the paperwork in being admitted to the hospital, there are often forms that cover these decisions and functions. However, they are not necessarily portable.

There is a lot of legal language in these documents, and when being admitted to a hospital, people usually just sign them and go on to the next paper. However, these same patients come out of the hospital wrongly assuming that they now have good legal documents related to their healthcare. This is not necessarily true. Many times, these documents are related only to that particular hospital and possibly even for the duration of that admittance. In addition, any declarations signed off on regarding life support and artificial nutrition and hydration are, again, only related to that particular hospital stay.

If someone hasn’t planned ahead and they are now signing paperwork to be admitted to the hospital, is it a good thing that these papers are being discussed and signed? Sure. But just like the “doughnut” spare tire you use when the car breaks down, it’s only good for a short amount of time, and you are using these temporary documents at your own peril.

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