Mrs. Cinocca graduated from the University of Tulsa certified in Health Law. As a former chairman of the Oklahoma Health Law Committee, Mrs. Cinocca conferred with many nursing home administrators and the families of their patients on end-of-life decision making issues. She has engaged in many public speaking engagements on these and related issues, many times to families of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, or otherwise in assisted living.
After conducting comprehensive research on each state’s laws on surrogate decision making, her article in favor of a Family Surrogate Decision Making Statute in Oklahoma was published on December 26, 1998. This article addresses how medical providers choose who may make decisions for an incapacitated person when no advance directive is in place. You may view the article by clicking on the link below:
Cinocca, Tracy. “The Need for a Family Decision Making Statute in Oklahoma.” Oklahoma Bar Journal. Vol. 69, No. 48, 12/26/98.
On June 24, 2005, Mrs. Cinocca attended a conference by the Philadelphia Bar Institute on End of Life Decision Making. Experts agree that if only more people would execute advance directives and discuss end of life decision making, then their families and friends would be much better prepared to handle their loss. It is far more difficult for family members to disagree on end of life decisions for you, if they all know your desires. In addition to the advance directives based on the statutorily prescribed link below, you should familiarize yourself and loved ones with the following:
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)
A DPOA allows you to chose who will make decisions for you and act on your behalf regarding your care, money, property, and other legal matters, either when you become mentally unable to make these decisions (incapacitated) or immediately when you sign the form. This person is called your attorney-in-fact. Your attorney-in-fact can act in your place and make all decisions about your money, property, legal issues and health care, except whether or not to administer life support and artificial food and hydration (tube feeding). Your attorney-in-fact will NOT be able to act for you or your estate after you die. If you do not have a DPOA, a family member can not make decisions and/or act on your behalf regarding your money, property and legal matters unless that person is legally listed on the account, property or claim. A power of attorney must have specific durable language to stay in effect if you become incapacitated.
Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPA)
A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to chose who will make your health care decisions for you when you are unable to make these decisions (incapacitated) or immediately when you sign the form. This person will only be allowed to make decisions regarding your health. This does NOT include power over money, property or other legal issues. You can direct your Health Care Proxy to withhold life support, artificial food and hydration (tube feeding) or other medical treatment (you will receive pain medication, unless you refuse it in the document). This document allows you to donate organs and direct the disposition of your remains.
Advance Directive for Health Care (“Living Will”)
An Advance Directive for Health Care includes what many refer to as a “living will” and other provisions regarding end of life issues. The law assumes that you want to be kept alive, unless there is evidence that you do not wish to be given life support or tube feeding. An advance directive allows you to: (1) chose to refuse or discontinue life support, artificial food and hydration (tube feeding) or other medical treatment (you will receive pain medication, unless you refuse it in the directive); (2) designate someone as your health care proxy to make these decisions on your behalf; (3) donate organs. Family members can NOT make these decisions for you. The attending physician must believe that it is YOUR wish to refuse or discontinue life sustaining treatment. A properly executed Advance Directive or other document including the “living will” language, will inform your doctor of your wishes. You can revoke the directive at any time.
In a guardianship, the court decides who will make decisions for you about your care and/or your money and property, if you become unable to make these decisions. This may happen if you have not filled out the proper legal documents to give someone the power to do this for you.
Do Not Rescusitate form (DNR)
A DNR instructs health care providers NOT to perform CPR on you. YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE CPR AT ANY TIME after you sign a DNR form, even if you are otherwise healthy. If you execute a DNR because you have a terminal condition, you will NOT receive CPR when your heart stops or for other reasons either (ie. heart attack, choking, drowning, car accident, etc.). A doctor or health care proxy may execute a DNR form for you after you have become incapacitated (unable to make your own decisions). You should consult your physician and attorney prior to executing a DNR, because it MAY RESULT IN DEATH.
Public Service & Speaking Engagements
As part of Mrs. Cinocca’s public service goal to educate the public and foster more citizens of the State of Oklahoma to execute advance directives, the statutorily approved and mandated forms are available. Depending on your personal needs and desires and whether or not you are aware of any medical condition which may cause your future incapacitation or not, you may need to consult with an attorney and your physician.
Should you desire to engage Mrs. Cinocca to speak to your group about the legal aspects of end of life decision making please contact her. Though one can never fully be prepared for the loss of a loved one, preparation can help you to deal with loss and others to eventually deal with yours. Please contact us if we can be of assistance to you.