Doctors and lawyers aren't known for keeping cozy professional relationships with each other.
But they've found common ground when it comes to educating the public about end-of-life legal issues.
The Allegheny County Bar Association has launched a campaign to inform the public about living wills and health care power-of-attorney forms, and the centerpiece is a how-to brochure also endorsed by the Allegheny County Medical Society.
"We've maintained cooperation in this field for some time," said Robert Wolf, a partner with law firm Tener, VanKirk, Wolf and Moore and a member of the bar association's probate and trust law section.
The free, 16-page brochure is not new; the legal and medical associations first collaborated two decades ago on a paper form that spelled out how to create living wills and designate power of attorney, Mr. Wolf said.
But the new marketing effort, which kicks off this month, broadens its reach to the Internet, where the public can access the form, download it, store it or print it out.
"We've taken a look at how to make it relevant and accessible today for smart phones, iPads and computers," Mr. Wolf said.
The form is linked to the bar association's website, www.acba.org, where visitors can also view two videos on legal and medical issues. The first video is a two-minute introduction to the topic; the second is a 12-minute guide that includes advice on appointing power of attorney agents, organ donation, and determining what medical treatment to specify in living will documents.
Although the brochure and form are copyrighted, they can be printed for personal use and distributed to friends, family, religious groups and other organizations that want to provide such information, Mr. Wolf said.
As the first step in the new awareness campaign, advertisements will appear beginning this week inside 80 buses and 10 light rail transit cars operated by Port Authority of Allegheny County.
The ads feature individuals and families of different ages with the tag line, "Plan ahead. Protect yourself. Protect your family."
Next week, members of the bar association and medical society will receive an email reminder about the campaign so they can spread the word to clients and patients.
That initiative coincides with National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16 -- a grassroots movement to promote advance health care planning that includes legal, religious, veterans and social service organizations as well as medical providers and caregivers.
Radio spots for the local initiative are scheduled for May.
The bar association has $10,000 to spend on the campaign but has allocated only $5,000 to date, Mr. Wolf said. After the transit ads appear, the association plans to monitor traffic to its website to determine how many people are accessing the form and related information.
It also plans to distribute fliers that resemble the printed ads to nursing homes, hospitals, doctors' and lawyers' offices.
While Mr. Wolf acknowledged that many senior citizens in the campaign's target market don't have access to the Internet, he hopes family and friends will make them aware of the brochure and share it.
"This needs to be a discussion not just among senior citizens but a family discussion. Part of our message is that you need to protect yourself and your family. This empowers you to say who speaks for your if you can't speak for yourself."
To access the free brochure and videos, go to www.acba.org/public or call 412-261-6161.
Joyce Gannon: email@example.com or 412-263-1580.