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Mission Statement

The mission of the U.S. Living Will Registry is to promote the use of advance directives through educational programs and to make people's health care choices available to their caregivers and families whenever and wherever they are needed, while maintaining the confidentiality of their information and documents.

The U.S. Living Will Registry has solved many of the problems historically associated with advance directives. Read the list of problems below, followed by a description of how the Registry has helped solve that particular problem.

Problem:  People don't know what advance directives are.

Solution:  The U.S. Living Will Registry helps educate the public about advance directives through this web site, it's printed brochure "Will Your Health Care Choices Be Honored If You Become Incapacitated?", and its highly acclaimed "Living Will Fair" Guide that gives step-by-step instructions to health care providers on how to sponsor an educational community event about advance directives.

Problem:  People don't know how to prepare an advance directive.

Solution:  The U.S. Living Will Registry provides resources on this web site that will help people learn how to prepare an advance directive.  The Advance Directive Forms page gives background instructions on what you should consider in preparing the document, and also has links to sites containing the form specific for your state.

Problem:  People don't know where to store their advance directive.

Solution:   People are commonly told to give copies of their advance directive to their family members, doctor and attorney.  But when the time comes to find the document, it is usually not available.  By definition, these documents are prepared well in advance of when they will be needed, and they are commonly put away for "safe keeping".  This makes them difficult to find during the stressful period when you're ill and the document needs to be found.  In addition, you may become ill while away from home, and most people do not carry their advance directive with them when they travel.   By registering your advance directive with the U.S. Living Will Registry, you can rest assured that hospitals and health care providers across the country will have access to your document no matter where or when it is needed.  
See the "How it Works" section below for details.

Problem:  Family members are forced to make difficult, guilt-ridden end-of-life decisions for their loved ones when the advance directive cannot be found.

Solution:  Even when someone has prepared an advance directive, if it cannot be found when it is needed, family members are asked to make difficult decisions about the care of their loved one.  By registering your advance directive with the U.S. Living Will Registry, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your family members will not be placed in such a situation.  Your choices will be available to your doctors and family members wherever and whenever needed.

Problem:  Health care providers have a difficult time managing all of the advance directives they receive from patients.

Solution:  Health care providers are required by law to ask their patients if they have an advance directive, and to place the document into the medical record.  Storing these documents and retrieving them has proved to be very difficult for providers.  How does the provider know that the advance directive on file is the most recent?  Which of the multiple charts on a particular patient contains the most current advance directive?  Who has the time to search through the medical records to find the old advance directive each time a patient is re-admitted?  What does a provider do with the advance directive when they convert their charts to electronic form, or microfiche? The U.S. Living Will Registry is the solution to all of these problems.  By using the Registry to store their advance directives, health care providers do not need to maintain their own storage and retrieval system.  They have 24-hour access to the Registry by telephone or Internet, and can retrieve a document in seconds.  Because the Registry contacts each registrant annually to make sure their advance directive has not changed, providers are assured that the documents they receive from the Registry are up to date.  Only health care providers have access to the documents, so privacy and confidentiality are always maintained.  With our exclusive Living VaultSM service, all of a facility's advance directives (even those currently on file in the record room) can be managed by the Registry.  This comprehensive system is an economical and efficient way for health care providers to manage their advance directives and comply with federal and state regulations.  It also enables Health Systems that have multiple hospitals, nursing facilities and hospices to easily share advance directives with other facilities in their system.  Visit the "Information for Providers" page for more details.


Will your health care choices be honored if you become incapacitated?

Protect your right to control your health care. Learn how to create and register your living will and health care proxy.

Health care is vitally important to everyone. Wherever you are, whatever the situation, you want to be sure you receive appropriate treatment. But even more importantly, you want your decisions to be honored.

The United States Supreme Court guarantees you the right to make those choices, even when you are too sick to make your wishes known. This right gives you control and protects your dignity. But how can you be sure that your choices will be honored if you're incapacitated?

Every American, regardless of age, faces this question. If you plan now, you can make sure you get the kind of care you want, and relieve your family of burdensome decisions.

Make your choices known in an advance directive.

An advance directive is a legal document in which you state how you want to be treated if you become very ill and there is no reasonable hope for your recovery. Although laws vary from state to state, there are basically two kinds of advance directives.

1. A living will is a legal document in which you state the kind of health care you want or don't want under certain circumstances.

2. A health care proxy (or durable health care power of attorney) is a legal document in which you name someone close to you to make decisions about your health care if you become incapacitated.

You can have both - a health care proxy naming a person to make the decisions, and a living will to help guide that person in making the decisions.

In order for your advance directive to be useful, it has to be available. After all, your advance directive won't do you any good if no one can find it.

Ensure that your advance directive is available when you need it, wherever you are.

Fortunately, there's an easy, secure way to make sure that your advance directive is available to your family and doctors wherever and whenever it's needed: the U.S. Living Will Registry.

Developed in consultation with attorneys who represent hospitals, the U.S. Living Will Registry is a nationwide service that stores your advance directive electronically and makes it available 24 hours a day to health care providers across the country. Your advance directive - living will, health care proxy, or both - is made available to your family and doctors when most needed: when you're too sick to communicate your wishes.

U.S. Living Will Registry eliminates worries about carrying your advance directive with you, as well as problems of finding it should you become ill.

How it Works:

  • People register their advance directive and/or organ donor information free of charge by registering through a member Health Care Provider or Community Partner.  They complete a Registration Agreement that gives the Registry permission to send a copy of their document to any health care provider (hospitals, doctors, skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, home health agencies, providers of home health care, ambulatory surgery centers, and hospices). Once registered, you are registered for life.  The Registry agrees not to release your information to any party other than health care providers, so your personal information is kept private and confidential, just like a medical record.. 

  • The document is electronically stored in the Registry's computer along with the registrant's emergency contact information.

  • The registrant is sent confirmation of their registration and labels to affix to their insurance card & driver's license, stating that their advance directive is registered.

  • The registrant is contacted annually by mail to confirm that the advance directive has not been changed or revoked, and to update personal and emergency contact information.  This annual update is also free; there is never a charge to the registrant.

  • The Registry is funded by Health Care Providers who pay an annual fee for unlimited access to the Registry's automated system, and so that their patients are able to register documents with the Registry.  Also, Community Partners of the Registry (attorneys, accountants, financial planners, community organizations, senior citizen groups, retailers, automobile clubs, etc.) pay an annual fee so their members, clients or customers can register their documents.  In this way, the service can be offered to registrants free of charge, and cost will never be a barrier to someone who wants to register this important document.

  • Health care providers can contact the Registry 24 hours a day to gain access to advance directives, organ donor information and emergency contact information, or simply  to inquire as to whether any patient has an advance directive (see "Information for Providers").  Member health care providers can use the automated service to request documents from the Registry by telephone (1-800-LIV-WILL) or via the secure Internet web site. Member health care providers are assigned Identification Numbers and Access Codes to use when contacting the Registry.  Providers have the option of receiving documents from the Registry by fax or via encrypted Internet transmission.  By gaining secure access to the Registry's automated system and entering the patient's social security number, health care providers can retrieve a copy of an advance directive, along with emergency contact and organ donor information in a matter of seconds.  Health care providers that are not members of the Registry can still access documents, but they cannot use the automated system.  Non-member providers can obtain documents by contacting the Registry by phone and providing information about their facility and about the person whose document they are trying to retrieve.  Registry personnel will perform a manual transmission of the document. 

What are the benefits to me?

  • Peace of mind, knowing that your choices are secure and will be available to your family and doctors even if you become ill away from home.

  • The serenity of knowing that you will be able to "speak" to your family and doctors through your advance directive about your personal philosophy and help them make the decisions you want without feeling guilt or remorse.

  • The security of confidential, 24-hour access to your choices by hospitals and health care providers across the country.

  • Health care providers can use the Registry to outsource storage and retrieval of these important documents; eliminating the need to maintain their own storage system.

Simply register your advance directive with U.S. Living Will Registry by filling out a form that gives the Registry permission to send a copy to health care providers (hospitals, doctors, skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, home health agencies, providers of home health care, and hospices). You must agree to inform the Registry if you ever decide to change your advance directive. The Registry electronically stores your advance directive in its computer and identifies it by your social security number. Health care providers can contact the computer by telephone or via a secure Internet site to request a copy of your advance directive. The computer securely transmits a copy of your document to the health care provider, and it is kept as part of your confidential medical record.

Your advance directive and personal information is totally confidential and can only be accessed by health care providers. You will have peace of mind knowing that your advance directive is safe, secure, and available to your family and doctors whenever and wherever it is needed. And because providers can simply contact the Registry to see if any patient has an advance directive, there is no need for you to carry a card stating that you're registered.

How to Prepare and Register an Advance Directive

If you already have an advance directive, follow the simple directions which follow for registering it.

If you do not have an advance directive, think about the kinds of medical treatment you wish to have, or not have, if you are incapacitated, and discuss them with your chosen decision-maker and your family. Next, formalize your wishes in an advance directive. For assistance in preparing your advance directive, visit your local hospital, ask an attorney, or visit the Advance Directive Forms or  Internet Resources pages on this site. Some of the organizations listed in the resources section provide state-specific advance directive forms which you can download or request by mail or telephone.

Make sure your choices and personal philosophy about medical treatments are clearly stated in your advance directive.

To Register Your Advance Directive

Visit the "How to Register" page for instructions on how to register your advance directive.

You will receive confirmation when your advance directive is processed.

Registration is FREE.

U.S. Living Will Registry provides this service to registrants without charge so that everyone can participate.  You must register through a member Health Care Provider or Community Partner.  Visit the "How to Register" page for instructions.  The Registry is funded by Health Care Providers who pay an annual fee for unlimited access to the Registry's automated system, and so that their patients are able to register documents with the Registry.  Also, Community Partners of the Registry (attorneys, accountants, financial planners, community organizations, senior citizen groups, retailers, automobile clubs, etc.) pay an annual fee so their members, clients or customers can register their documents.  In this way, the service can be offered to registrants free of charge, and cost will never be a barrier to someone who wants to register this important document.

To read comments from registrants and attorneys, visit the “Testimonials” page..

Born of Necessity...

U.S. Living Will Registry was founded by Joseph T. Barmakian, M.D., a New Jersey Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon. Dr. Barmakian has witnessed the ordeal of patients' families as they confront the painful, guilt-ridden decisions of life support and medical treatment. He has also felt the frustration of doctors who don't have access to patients' wishes. It was in 1996 that Dr. Barmakian first recognized the need for a registry service that not only recorded patients' advance directives, but also made it easier for health care facilities to obtain the information. Dr. Barmakian felt it was critical to establish a system which provides medical personnel and patient's families with advance directives whenever and wherever they are needed while maintaining the patient's privacy and confidentiality. U.S. Living Will Registry fulfills these criteria, providing easy, 24-hour access to patients' wishes.

 

 

 
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