Planning ahead for important medical decisions is your right and your responsibility. In the event that you become incapable of making such decisions, an Advance Directive will provide written explanation of your health care wishes.
If you already have an Advance Directive, please provide us with a copy. If you do not have an Advance Directive and would like to complete one, our Case Management Department will help you with the necessary information.
What are Advance Directives?
Formal advance directives are documents that state your choices for health care or name someone to make those choices for you if you become unable to make those decisions. Through an advance directive, such as a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you can make legally valid decisions about your future medical treatment, including, for example, which treatments you would like applied, withheld or withdrawn. Keep in mind that an advance directive goes into effect only when you are incapable of making and/or communicating your health care wishes to your medical team.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a document in which you can stipulate the kind of life-prolonging medical care you want if you become terminally ill, permanently unconscious or in a vegetative state and are unable to make your own decisions. It is recommended that you discuss a living will with family members, your physician, and, if desired, your clergy. A copy of the document should be included as part of your permanent medical records.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A durable power of attorney for health care is another kind of advance directive. It is a signed, dated and witnessed document naming another person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself at any time, not just at the end of life. You can include instructions about any treatment you want or wish to avoid, such as surgery, nutrition and hydration. It is recommended that you discuss this document with family members, your physician, and, if desired, your clergy. A copy of the document should be included as part of your permanent medical records. Note that it is possible to have both a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Some states combine them in a single document that both describes one's treatment preferences in a variety of situations and names a proxy.
Can an Advance Directive be changed?
You may change or revoke a living will or health care power of attorney at any time. Any alterations and/or revocation should be done in writing and copies should be given to your family, physician and other appropriate individuals. Even without an official written change, your orally expressed direction to your physician generally has priority over any statement made in a living will or power of attorney as long as you are able to decide for yourself and communicate your wishes.
For More Information
If you would like more information about Advance Directives, please contact our Case Management Department.