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It may be self-evident but if you get such respiratory distress from #COVIDー19 that you are placed on a ventilator, you will be unable to speak.

I know it’s hard but, as you gather with family, tell them what you would want done in that event.

Designate a surrogate decision-maker (healthcare proxy).

Better yet, document your wishes through an advance directive.

@AARP has a very helpful website where you can find appropriate forms by state:…

You can also complete a POLST form (Physician's Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). This is not synonymous with an advance directive, and again varies from state to state.

You can learn more here:…

I know this sounds unspeakably morbid, and might invoke "death panel" rhetoric.

But, to the contrary, it positions physicians like me to honor YOUR autonomy when you are -- quite literally -- voiceless.

This comes not from a place of cold, clinical calculation but rather from the most compassion I can muster as a doctor.

As a country we are facing together an unprecedented demand on our healthcare, and it should be apportioned as closely to individual wishes as possible.

In closing, speak up while you can, ideally in writing.

I wish you the best of health, as well as meaningful conversations with your loved ones, in this respect and many others.

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