Renowned Doctor explains why even 18-year-olds should plan for the unexpected

Renowned palliative care physician, BJ Miller’s career trajectory was drastically altered when he suffered a life-threatening injury during his sophomore year of college.

While horsing around with a friend, he climbed a commuter train parked at a rail station, the next thing he knew eleven-thousand volts shot through his left arm and down his legs. These limbs eventually had to be amputated and it was a year before Miller returned to college. This is an experience no student expects, but it is a possibility. Everyone’s life can change in an instant.

Every August, nervous parents prepare to send their children away to college. They spend countless hours preparing for this moment. Even so, it seems like our children are never truly ready.

"Before our kids leave home, we need to have these hard-to-approach conversations with them and document their wishes so that emergency healthcare providers can easily access key information. MyDirectives is perfect for this,” said Dr. Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, Critical & Palliative Care Specialist, author of Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End-of-Life, and featured in the Academy Award nominee Extremis.

For peace of mind, parents need to think through the “what-ifs” of unpleasant scenarios. An accident, illness or a crime could leave your child unable to communicate and dependent on good Samaritans or friends to guide their medical treatment.

That scenario inspired one mom to blog her advice to parents. She recommends updating the Medical ID information on kids’ iPhones and making sure to include emergency contact information so that healthcare providers will be able to reach a family member immediately.

Even more important, is to encourage our children to create a digital emergency, critical care plan like the iPhone and Facebook integrated MyDirectives platform. Your child will have access to emergency medical assistance and care but in most states, parental health care rights end at age 18.

In the unfortunate event that your children are unable to speak for themselves, their digital emergency, critical care plan can speak for them, allowing you to be involved and have a voice in their care while eliminating some of the confusion.

What would you do if your child was injured, unable to speak for themselves and far away from home at college? Do you know how to connect with their friends or their roommate? When you’re making your checklist this August/September, be sure to include creating a digital emergency, critical care plan to ensure you can keep your child as safe as possible even when you’re not around.

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