West Virginia first to launch advance directive registry
By Suzanne Higgins January 25, 2011, WV Public Radio
West Virginia is poised to become the first in the country to implement a statewide electronic registry for advance directives including medical powers of attorney, living wills and do not resuscitate orders.
The idea behind an electronic registry is access during emergency situations, 24 hours a day, according to project director, Alvin Moss, MD.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve admitted someone to the hospital and someone says ‘oh, I know Mom has one of those forms, I just don’t know where it is,’” said Moss.
Studies have shown that at least 25% of the time properly executed advance directives are not available when needed, according to Moss.
“I think you and I would agree a 25% failure rate is not a good performing system.”
The West Virginia e-Directive Registry will be coordinated through the WV Health Information Network – the state’s electronic medical records system. Doctors, nurses, even hospice staff could get permission to access a patient’s advance directives.
“It will be password protected and HIPPA compliant, but they will be able to go on line and find out what this patient’s wishes are,” said Moss.
A few other states have regional systems or phone-in systems. But Moss says only West Virginia’s system will offer access to patients.
“There will be a way for you to go online and just make sure the info that is there is accurate and current and what you want, so that’s a way to be patient-centered as well.”
In addition to the center, hospitals and doctors offices also distribute advance directives. The new forms have an “opt –in” box for the e-registry.
Advance directives completed before the new forms were created will be accepted into the registry. Moss says to contact your physician who can fax the forms into the Center for End of Life Care or contact the center at wvendoflife.org.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more people doing advance directives knowing that there is closure in the system if you will,” said Moss. “They’ll know they are not just doing something that’s out there in space that nobody really knows about it.”
“When there’s a need, their wishes will be known.”