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March 28, 2023

Health Care Decision-Making

Featured Resource

Health Care Advance Planning Packet

Health Care Advance Planning Packet

Download for Free!

The Health Care Advance Planning Packet

 A trio of free resources to walk you through three advance planning steps.

  1. Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning helps you clarify your values, priorities, and wishes regarding your future health care.
  2. The Multi-State Health Care Power of Attorney booklet provides the key legal tool for appointing a proxy decision-maker that is valid in most states.  The form can be completed on your computer or downloaded and completed by hand.
  3. How to Make Decisions for Someone Else is a guide for your proxy, explaining the job description of a proxy and tips for making good decisions.

Consumer Information

Mind Your Loved Ones (MYLO) Smartphone App

One of the biggest problems we all experience in making decisions for loved ones is that needed information is not in our hands when needed - at the right time and at the right place.  This smartphone app solves that problem. Get more details on MYLO here. Available for iPhones and Android phones at $4.99 per year for ABA Members ($7.99 for non-members) through ABA Member Advantage. 

Health Care Planning Guides and Tools

Links to Free State-Specific Advance Planning Forms

Pathways to Health Care Decision Making - Factsheet detailing the six preferred ways to make healthcare choices.

Ten Legal Tips for Caregivers

Sample HIPAA Right of Access Form for Family Member/Friends 

This form allows you to direct health care providers and payers to disclose and release protected health information to whomever you name.

Health and Financial Decisions: Legal Tools for Preserving Personal Autonomy
Information on powers of attorney, trusts, health care advance directives, living wills and other planning tools. 2005. Brochures are $1 each. For orders of 100 or more brochures, please paste code AGBULK100 at checkout for a discounted price of $0.50 per brochure.  (please note that the discount code will need to be copied and pasted or manually entered at checkout in order to recieve the discount)

Myths and Facts About Health Care Advance Directives
by Charlie Sabatino, Bifocal, Vol. 37, No. 1 - September 2015

Lawyer Resources

Advance Directives: Counseling Guide for Lawyers

Advance Directives: Counseling Guide for Lawyers

Available in the ABA Web Store

Advance Directives: Counseling Guide for Lawyersis designed to assist lawyers and health care professionals in formulating end-of-life health decision plans that are clearly written and effective. Click the link above for the FREE PFD download of the entire book or  key sections of the Guide. Order hard copies from the ABA Web store.  

Third-party Resources

  • National POLST                                                                                                                                              POLST is the national term referring to portable medical orders intended for patients who are considered to be at risk for a life-threatening clinical event because they have a serious life-limiting medical condition, which may include advanced frailty.  POLST has different names in different states but is simply called POLST at the national level.  National POLST is a collaborative of state POLST programs that has set voluntary standards and policies for the adoption and implementation of POLST by states.
  • American Bar Association and Harris Interactive Inc. 2008 Healthcare Emergency Planning Poll

Legislative Analysis  

Oral Designation of Health Decisions Surrogate Recognized by Statute (Aug. 2020)

Default Surrogate Consent Statutes (Oct. 2022)

State Health Care Power of Attorney Statutes: Selected Characteristics  (January 2022)

Barriers to Universal Advance Directives by Charlie Sabatino. Published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics Winter 2018 issue. 

Orally Provided Food and Fluids and Comfort Care (July 2017)

Annual Summaries

Summary of Health Care Decision Statutes Enacted in 2020-21

Summary of Health Care Decision Statutes Enacted in 2019


Incapacitated and Alone: Health Care Decision-Making for the Unbefriended Elderly

This 2003 publication is now available as a free pdf download. It presents the findings of a ground-breaking study aimed at improving medical decision-making on behalf of older patients incapable of making their own decisions and lacking surrogate decision-makers.

Health Care Decision-Making in Clinical Settings

This research project launches a major study of how health care providers make health care decisions for patients in a clinical setting who lack capacity and have nothing in writing naming a person to make health care decisions. The research is made possible by funding from the Retirement Research Foundation. Joining the Commission in undertaking this research are the Society for Hospital Medicine and the Society for Critical Care Medicine.

Information for Physicians

  • POLST: The Seven Deadly Sins - This article appearing in Bifocal Vol. 39, Issue 4 discusses the missteps that undermine a patients’ informed decision-making and why health care providers should be aware of and conscientiously avoid the seven deadly sins of POLST. (April 2018)

Reprint Requests

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