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Advance Directives Available to Vermonters

Armen Hareyan's picture

Vermonters can now file an advance directive that will ensure that a person's critical health care decisions will be honored during a time of incapacitating illness, coma, or end-of-life care.

The advance directive will be maintained in a registry called the "Vermont Advance Directive Registry" established by the Vermont Department of Health. Locating the documents and finding the proper designated "agent" to make health decisions is often a stumbling block to following patient wishes when the patient is unconscious or unable to communicate.

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"This new registry marks a significant innovation and added protection for Vermonters," said John Campbell, executive director of the Vermont Ethics Network. "It provides the peace of mind and security of knowing that their wishes, exactly as expressed in the advance directive, can be available immediately in a medical emergency or critical care situation.''

An advance directive establishes a clear course of action for family members and removes possible guilt or remorse when a difficult decision has to be made. The Vermont Ethics Network and the Health Department will conduct community workshops and outreach to encourage Vermonters to sign up for the registry during the next few months.

"Vermont is one of only a handful of states that has an electronic registry for sharing this vital information," Campbell added. The advance directive is a legal document accessible only to authorized health care providers, health care facilities, funeral directors and crematory operators that serves as a "living will" or a "durable power of attorney for healthcare."

The registry will provide identifying information, emergency contact information, and a copy of the advance directive to any provider with a valid request. Information transmitted via the internet to your provider or healthcare facility is encrypted and secure.