Photo of an ambulance speeding through traffic at nighttime
Does the patient in this ambulance have a health care advance directive?

Indiana health care advance directive options may improve in 2019. If Indiana passes 2019 House Bill 1516 (HB 1516), then the law will upgrade how Hoosiers plan for future health care decisions. This article describes current health care advance directive laws and how the new law may help Indiana health care patients.

Advance Directive Explanation

An advance directive is a person’s written plan for future health care decisions. Some advance directives say what kinds of health care people want to receive or avoid, and other advance directives appoint and empower decision-makers. Advance directives include appointments of health care representatives, living wills, and several other kinds of health care decision tools.

Indiana’s 26-Year Old Advance Directive Laws

Terminally ill and chronically ill patients have received huge benefits from Indiana’s 2016 Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) law. Compared to the “all or nothing” limitations of living wills and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, POST forms are much more powerful health care planning tools. The 2018 POST form lets patients and their doctors customize treatment plans with more than 5 categories of pre-planning options.

HB 1516’s Advance Directives Improvements

POST solves some problems, but many weaknesses remain in Indiana’s health consent laws. Physicians and lawyers for more than a decade, so a team of physicians, professors, legislators, and lawyers formed to update Indiana’s 26-year-old medical consent laws. HB 1516 updates the current laws to address many of this century’s important issues, such as nontraditional families, electronic records, and health care providers with advanced nursing degrees. The bill offers more useful medical decision tools for health care providers and their patients.

Current Advance Directives “Grandfathered”

If Indiana passes HB 1516, it will take effect on July 1, 2019, but it would not invalidate people’s current living wills, health care powers of attorney, and appointments of health care representatives. However, all new advance directives made after December 31, 2022, must satisfy the requirements of the new law.

Make an Advance Directive Now

People should not wait for the new law to take effect before making advance directives, because they may need emergency health care before July 1, 2019. Also, existing laws and HB 1516 provide plenty of flexibility to make powerful advance directives now, so there is no reason to wait for HB 1516 to take effect.

More Advance Directive Reading Material

Readers can find more advance directive information and resources on these webpages:

Indiana General Assembly website for HB 1516:

http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/bills/house/1516

Indiana State Department of Health Advance Directives Resource Center:

https://www.in.gov/isdh/25880.htm

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2980344/

Indiana Legal Services, Inc.:

https://www.indianalegalservices.org/node/292/general-information-about-advance-directives

IU School of Medicine:

https://medicine.iu.edu/give/gift-types/body-donation/

Indiana Donor Network:

https://indianadonornetwork.org/gift-life-learning-center/donation-faqs/

www.hawkinselderlaw.com:

About the Authors

Jeff R. Hawkins and Jennifer J. Hawkins have practiced in the areas of trusts, estates, and elder law for over 26 years. Both lawyers are Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers and active members of the Indiana State Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Both lawyers are admitted to practice law in Indiana, and Jeff Hawkins is admitted to practice law in Illinois. Jeff is also a registered civil mediator, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the Indiana Bar Foundation;  a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Indiana Association of Mediators; and he was the 2014-15 President of the Indiana State Bar Association. Find more information about these and other topics at www.HawkinsLaw.com. © Copyright 2019 Hawkins Law PC. All rights reserved.