Everyone should have an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) that designates an agent to act on your behalf if you are unable to make your own health care decisions. The agent can then consent to surgery on your behalf or “pull the plug” or keep you alive if you are in a persistent vegetative state. But your AHCD doesn’t do you much good if the doctor or hospital can’t find it.  Now the California Secretary of State has made it possible to file these documents in a central location that can be accessed by hospitals and doctors.  Alternatively, you can indicate where the document can be found.

The Registration form can be found on-line at the California Secretary of State’s office. You need to find the forms and fees section and then click on the Registration form under the Registry Section. You can either attach the original Advance Health Care Directive with the filing, or, indicate where the AHCD is located.

All this for a low $10 filing fee. The form contains mailing information, or you can fill it out online.

The hope is that if enough people register, it will become common practice for doctors and hospitals to locate these forms and follow your desires.  However, at least in the near-term this will not be helpful in life-threatening emergencies.  It can take up to 24 hours for the information to return to the requesting doctor or institution.