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Virginia Online Registry for Advance Directives Anticipated

AARP Virginia looks forward to the launch of the Virginia online registry for advance directives this spring.

Advance directives provide documentation of healthcare wishes if a person becomes terminally ill or critically injured and unable to communicate.

State Delegate David Englin, D, championed legislation to create an online registry for advance directives in Virginia with the support of AARP.

The registry will offer secure storage of documents “that protect your legal rights and ensure your medical wishes are honored if you are unable to manage your own care,” says Englin.
The registry will be a free service of the Virginia Department of Health.

Currently the registry is in the final stages of preparation with an expected launch in the spring of 2011. Watch for the official launch date.
While advance directives are critical, they are only one part of the advance care planning process.

In preparation for the online registry, AARP Virginia encourages all adults, including those who are healthy and in the prime of life, to engage in an advance care planning process: anticipating future healthcare decisions, discussing wishes and documenting choices.

Key questions in the advance care planning process include:

  • What kind of care do I want and not want in the event of a life-limiting illness or incapacitating condition?
  • Who would I choose to make decisions for me if I became unable to speak for myself?
  • Have I communicated my wishes with my healthcare decision-maker, family and others who would be involved in my care?
  • Have I documented my decisions with an advance directive and given copies of those documents to my decision maker and healthcare professionals?
  • Have I checked my existing advanced directives recently to ensure they are up to date?

Exploring these questions before a crisis helps ensure that advance directives are complete, up to date and ready to be utilized if needed.

To encourage everyone to focus on important healthcare decisions, April 16, 2011 has been designated as National Healthcare Decisions Day, a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations, including AARP.

National Healthcare Decisions Day encourages all citizens to plan ahead for future healthcare decisions. With the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990, Congress affirmed the right of every citizen to document his or her future healthcare wishes in writing with an “advance directive.”

However it’s estimated that only 25% of Americans have completed an advance directive.
National Healthcare Decisions Day provides information to the public to increase understanding of healthcare decision making and to improve the ability of healthcare facilities and providers to offer informed and thoughtful guidance about advance healthcare planning to their patients.

According to Nathan Kottkamp, NHDD Chair, “With healthcare, your decisions matter. However, others need to know your wishes to honor them. There are no wrong answers when thinking about healthcare choices and completing an advance directive. Please use April 16, 2011, to decide, discuss and document your wishes, whatever they may be.”

Learn more about advance care planning and National Health Care Decisions Day, for free information, tools and resources.

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