Guv, lawmakers push advance health care directives
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed SCR2 Friday, encouraging adult Utahns to prepare an advance health care directive.
The resolution, which was approved by the Legislature, says such directives help ensure that someone's wishes are honored if, following an illness or accident, he or she can no longer make health care decisions.
Speaking of his mother's death in October, an emotional Herbert said knowing what she wanted when she died was a big comfort to him and his family.
"Whether it is your mother or father or brother or sister, nothing is too good for them in those difficult times," Herbert said. "I think what we are going to suggest to you today is that those difficult decisions can be eased if, in fact, there has been a discussion about it ahead of time."
In the resolution, steps are outlined starting with a discussion with family members about health and end-of-life care. It then suggests filling out the Utah Advance Health Care Directive and keeping of copy in a convenient place, as well as giving it to doctors and hospitals to be kept in medical records.
Sponsoring Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Holladay, says these steps aren't for older people.
"Chronic conditions and accidents can happen at any age so what we are encouraging with this resolution is to think about your wishes, what you want and what you don't want," said Jones.
Jones said that the directive prevents procedures from occurring against the patient's wishes, noting that a "huge amount of our health care dollars go to treat people at the end of their lives."
But she says saving money isn't the purpose of the resolution.
"This is not necessarily about cost, it is about quality of life and the comfort that families have when they have made those advanced directives known," said Jones.
House sponsor Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, said the purpose is peace of mind.
"This is the opportunity that we have of giving the gift of peace as a final gift that will be remembered forever by those who we leave behind," said Ivory.