Here is another in our continuing series of articles about things going on around Rochester. Enjoy!

Hospital stays aren’t only hard on the patient — they’re tough for their loved ones, too, which is why it’s important to take every precautionary step possible to make things easier. For this reason, the University of Rochester Medical Center has an entire webpage dedicated to important documents with downloadable PDFs, so that the right paperwork can be easily collected and filled out.

Two of these forms are crucial.

First, there’s the completed health care proxy. According to the New York State Department of Health, “The New York Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint someone you trust — for example, a family member or close friend – to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself. By appointing a health care agent, you can make sure that health care providers follow your wishes.”

Secondly, there’s the living will. This allows a person to control their wishes regarding their health care if they ever become unable to do so. Essentially, it provides the answers to healthcare questions before they’re ever asked, in the event that they need to be asked.

When a living will is paired with the completed health care proxy form, a person can retain control over what decisions are made and who is the person making them.

It would also be wise to complete a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) release form, since most companies need to ensure that the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data is preserved — whether it’s in motion or at rest.

HIPAA was introduced in 1996, and the Privacy Rule, which many doctors equate with HIPAA, was introduced in 2003. These require doctors and/or other healthcare providers to obtain a patient’s written authorization before they can share certain pieces of information with a “third party,” which includes other caregivers and relatives.

Essentially, filling out a HIPAA release beforehand will cut away any bureaucratic red tape, allowing a person’s decisions to be carried out more efficiently.

With these documents in place, an unexpected hospital stay won’t be quite such a burden.