Advance Medical Directives

What is an advance directive?
An advance directive protects your healthcare wishes. It allows your wishes to be respected if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It outlines the medical treatment you would want or names a representative of your choice to make the decision for you. There are two choices: a Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Living Will.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?
It is a document that allows you to name another person to make medical decisions for you. It goes into effect only if you are unable to make that decision for yourself.

What is a Living Will?
It is a document that allows you to select which medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life. This document also only goes into effect if you are no longer able to make your own decision.

You can state whether you would want interventions such as CPR, a respirator, tube feeding, kidney dialysis, hospice care, or no treatment. You can also make know if you would want an autopsy or donation of your organs.

Where can I get help with advance directives?
Our hospital has social workers that are available to provide you with forms, answer questions, and locate a notary public to complete the form. You can also work with an attorney of your choice to formulate an advance directive.

What should I consider in making the document?
Discuss your wishes with your family and involve them in the creation of the document. Often, it is your family that will be approached about decision-making and will need to know what your wishes are.

Make copies of the document. Give a copy to your doctor, the local hospital, your home care agency, your dialysis unit, your family or agent, and keep a copy for yourself.

Know that you can change or revoke your advance directive. You should review it regularly to ensure it still reflects your current wishes. Remember to destroy all copies of the old directive and give new copies to your healthcare providers and family.