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October 22, 1997

Vintage CareGeriatrics Resources on the Net

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr Peters; e-mail: rhp@solvig.med.harvard.edu); and the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md (Dr Sikorski; e-mail: rss@nhgri.nih.gov).

JAMA. 1997;278(16):1299-1300. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550160019008

An elderly couple comes to the clinic for a routine visit and to receive their annual influenza vaccinations. The man has congestive heart failure with poor systolic function; his condition is stable on current medications. His wife has had 2 vertebral compression fractures but is otherwise healthy. The couple tells the physician seeing them that they want to give each other the authority to make medical decisions in the event one of them becomes incapacitated, and they ask for help infilling out a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care form. The physicianprovides some basic advice, gives the couple 2 standard forms, and asks if they spend any time on the Internet. Learning that the couple regularly uses e-mail to communicate with relatives and increasingly explores the World Wide Web, the physician suggests several sites providing information about the health care proxy process. He also asks the couple to bring