The stroke patient, who could not speak and had no living will, was aphasic, a condition that results from damage to the part of the brain that controls language. But she could think and make gestures, so a series of images was created – with input from her doctors at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and her lawyers at UM's School of Law – from which she could select her legally enforceable wish that her sister handle her finances.
Without the novel instrument, the woman would have been declared incompetent and a guardian would have been appointed to make her decisions.
To underscore such innovations, Miami Law's Health and Elder Law Clinic and its partners at the Miller School of Medicine have been invited to be part of the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership. The executive directors of the center, Megan Sandel and Ellen Lawton, will be in Miami on Friday to visit the law and medical campuses. They also will take part in a Community and Stakeholders Forum in the third-floor auditorium of the Rosenstiel Medical Science Building at 2 p.m.
At the gathering, which comes amid a growing national trend of doctors and lawyers working together on behalf of patients, participants will discuss opportunities to reach out to the underserved – those suffering from HIV/AIDS, veterans, the poor and the elderly.
The University of Miami School of Law and the School of Medicine/Teaching Programs in Public Health offer a joint-degree program in law and public health. Upon completion of the program, a student earns the Juris Doctor degree from the School of Law and a Master of Public Health degree from the School of Medicine.