National Health Care Decisions Day 2014

Once again (we talked about this last year too), National Health Care Decisions Day is almost upon us. The 7th Annual NHDD is next Wednesday, April 16, 2014. NHDD is a day intended to give people the opportunity to learn about and participate in advance care planning. Each year, Missouri attorneys give their time to help people prepare advance directives, and this year will be no different.

One of the reasons why I like to address NHDD a little before the actual day is to give folks a chance to think about their healthcare decisions and what they want done; it can be difficult and unwise to attempt to make critical healthcare choices on the spur of the moment. If you’re thinking about making these kinds of healthcare choices, I encourage you to give yourself some time to reflect on those decisions. Also, consider discussing these matters with your doctor; he or she might be able to help you understand those choices and their consequences.

For Missourians, the Missouri Bar has forms available for advanced healthcare planning (note: there may be a need for notaries and witnesses, depending on what you do with those forms, so be careful about just printing them, filling them out, and signing them…that might not be enough). You might want to check out my earlier post on powers of attorney to learn more about how POAs work, while you’re at it. For those of you who might be reading this from some other state, you might look at your state’s bar or NHDD’s Public Resources page. Missourians, you may find that page helpful too, because in addition to the legal issues, it has a number of links to places where you can learn about thinking through and talking about your healthcare choices.

Why participate in National Healthcare Decisions Day?

  1. To make sure that your family and your doctors know what you want in case you can’t tell them.
  2. To have a plan in place in case you experience a sudden illness or injury that keeps you from being able to communicate those decisions.
  3. To appoint someone to make those decisions for you if necessary, so that doctors know who to rely on for instructions.
  4. To spare your family the uncertainty–perhaps a painful uncertainty–of trying to guess what your wishes are.
  5. To get the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have a plan in place.

We’re only a week away from NHDD. Now’s a great time to start thinking about your healthcare decisions.

Photo credit: Medisave UK, (, image found at, licensed under

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