National Healthcare Decisions Day

National Healthcare Decisions Day is a holiday whose aim is not to get people to celebrate anything in particular but to educate them on the importance of participating in their healthcare planning. If a person has a health emergency, decisions on their medical care are usually thrust upon their family members—and that can place an undue burden on them. That’s why this holiday encourages everyone to think about their healthcare needs and possible health outcomes and to come up with a plan their family can follow if they ever become seriously ill or disabled.

The History of Healthcare Decisions Day

This holiday was created by Nathan Kottkamp to educate the public on the importance of discussing what to do if they ever become ill or disabled and to create advance directives to give their family members information that will enable them to make educated decisions.

Facts and Myths About Advance Directives

During the course of our holiday research, we decided that it would be appropriate to dig up some information on advance directives. After all, there are a lot of myths surrounding advance directives, so it’s worth clearing some of those up while we discuss this holiday.

To Stop End-of-Life Treatment, You Have to Have a Living Will

Although an advance directive is a handy tool that helps family members and physicians make educated healthcare decisions, a living will is not the only way for end-of-life treatment to end. If a particular course of treatment isn’t helping, and the patient can speak for themselves, then physicians will generally consult with family members or healthcare agents to come up with another plan.

Advance Directives Have to Be Followed by Doctors

Although advance directives are legally recognized documents, and doctors must respect the patient’s wishes, doctors do have the ability to refuse to comply with a patient’s wishes if they have any objection of conscience or think that the request is medically inappropriate. Under those circumstances, the physician will transfer the patient to a healthcare provider that will comply with their wishes.

Advance Directives Mean Treatment Shouldn’t Be Provided

Another common myth is that advance directives mean that doctors shouldn’t provide treatment. That simply isn’t true. An advance directive tells healthcare professionals what you don’t want and what you do want. Even if a patient didn’t want curative treatment, the physician may still provide palliative care—care that keeps the patient comfortable and as pain-free as possible.

Observing National Healthcare Decisions Day

National Healthcare Decisions Day can be observed by taking some time to think about potential healthcare decisions that you might need to make or that you want your family to make if you ever become unable to communicate your needs and wants with your doctor directly. This means having advance directives drawn up and choosing a person who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf. It’s also a good idea to provide your healthcare provider with a copy of your advance directives and to have extra copies printed up just in case you’re transferred to another hospital during the course of treatment.

When is it?
This year (2024)
April 16 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
April 16 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
April 16 Sunday
Health & Body