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Advance directives are documents that state the patient's choices regarding:
- Life Support
- Stopping Treatment
- Life-Sustaining Treatment
Two common advance directives are:
- A Living Will: A written document expressing your wishes concerning the use of life-sustaining procedures. Two physicians must designate that you are "terminally ill" before a living will becomes effective.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Form (pdf): A written document that lets you name someone to make your healthcare decisions if you become unable to speak for yourself.
While in the hospital you can ask for forms and help filling them out. You can also get forms and information from the Catholic Health Association.
Advance Directives FAQs
Do I have to complete an advance directive?
Advance directives are optional documents. However, if you choose to complete one, it is important that you provide a copy to members of your health care team. Please bring a copy of your living will or durable power of attorney to the hospital.
What is the purpose of having an advance directive?
The purpose of an advance directive is to allow you to tell us your choices about your care in the future. You put your wishes in writing while you are able to make decisions. The law says that all hospitals must give you information about your right to make decisions about your medical care. Hospital staff and practitioners who provide care in the hospital will comply with your directives, or try to provide referral to a caregiver or facility that will.
Can my family and friends make decisions when I am unable to?
Your doctor will ask your closest relative or friend who can be reached to help make decisions if you are too sick. This approach is usually okay for most situations. But sometimes your family and friends can't agree on what should be done. It can be very helpful to have one person named as your durable power of attorney for health care. This is the person who will help the doctor make decisions about your care when you are unable to do so.