Healthcare decisions are some of the most important and personal decisions a person can make, yet few people know that important healthcare decisions can be made in advance. Making such decisions in advance is accomplished by executing a document known as a “Patient Advocate Designation” (also known as an “advance health care directive” or a “durable power of attorney for healthcare”). This document is designed to ensure that your healthcare decisions will be respected, regardless of whether you can communicate your wishes to your doctor. However, if you are in a situation that prevents you from communicating with a doctor, how is the doctor going to know that you have one?
Michigan has decided to tackle this issue head on, and in doing so has become the first state to introduce a “Peace of Mind Registry.” The Peace of Mind registry is a free and voluntary service where you can upload your Patient Advocate Designation to a State-maintained website, so healthcare professionals can access your documents when needed. This system is designed to give Michigan residents the ‘peace of mind’ that comes with knowing their healthcare wishes will be followed, regardless of the situation.
To take advantage of the Peace of Mind Registry, you must make a free account on https://www.mipeaceofmind.org/. Once an account is made, you can then upload your Patient Advocate Designation and a wallet sized card will be mailed to you, which contains your username. If you are ever in a situation where a doctor needs direction regarding your healthcare and you cannot provide such direction, the doctor can simply call the registry and all of the documents you uploaded will be sent to the doctor immediately.
This system is the first of its kind, and it represents a significant step forward for Michigan residents who worry about whether their healthcare wishes will be followed. That said, the system is relatively new and there are a few unresolved issues. For example, you can upload new documents to the system to change your Patient Advocate Designation, but you can only view the most recent document uploaded. The doctor, however, will receive all documents on the server on making a request, so if any of the Patient Advocate Designations are not properly executed, the doctor may end up relying on an outdated one. Also, the system does not verify requirements when you upload a document, so it will accept documents that are outside the scope of its intended purpose.
While issues still exist, the registry does function as intended, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate the system to ensure your wishes will be followed. If you would like to learn more about the Peace of Mind registry or if you would like to know more about Patient Advocate Designations, please feel free to contact the law offices of Shifman & Carlson, P.C. at 248.406.0620.