Advance Directives are documents signed by a competent person giving direction to health care providers about the treatment choices in certain circumstances. There are two types of Advance Directives: A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows that you name a "patient advocate" to act for you and carry out your wishes when you are unable to express your wishes; and a Living Will that allows you to state your wishes in writing regarding future care, but does not name a patient advocate.
If you already have an Advance Directive, please bring it with you to the hospital. If you need additional information about Advance Directives, please ask any member of the hospital staff. They will provide you with information necessary to execute an Advance Directive. Legal advice is not required, but if you wish, your attorney can also help you prepare a document. The law does not allow hospital personnel to witness these documents, so you will need to make other arrangements to complete the requirement.
Every patient is asked to participate in a discussion affecting his or her care. By federal law, the Advance Directive is available to every patient and should be a part of your medical record. As a competent adult, you have the right to accept or refuse any medical treatment. "Competent" means that you understand your condition and the possible results of your decisions. As long as you are competent, you are the only person who can decide what medical treatment you want to receive. Your doctors will give you information and provide the pros and cons of different treatments, but only you can choose whether to say, "Yes," or "No." You can say, "No," even if the treatment you refuse might keep you alive longer and your doctor or your family wants you to have it.