Illness or injury can happen at any time. Do your family members or friends know your healthcare wishes? Would they know what to do? Does your doctor know what treatments you do or do not want?
With advance directives, you can make sure you get the care you want. You will feel reassured knowing that your choices can be honored immediately, without losing valuable time, and that difficult decisions will be easier for your loved ones to make.
What is an Advanced Directive?
Advanced Directives tell your healthcare providers about your wishes if you are unable to speak for yourself. This can be information about care that you would like to receive or what you do not want to have done.
There are two main types of Advanced Directives. They are the Healthcare Proxy and the Living Will.
What are your rights relating to your healthcare?
As a competent adult you have the right to:
- Receive information from your doctor to make informed decisions about a procedure or course of treatment. Your doctor should review the risks and benefits that are being proposed, possible side effects and alternatives.
- Decide to accept, reject or discontinue medical care and treatment.
- Refuse medical treatment, even treatment necessary to sustain life. The refusal of life-sustaining treatment is not considered suicide or assisted suicide.
- Appoint a proxy to make decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
- Appoint a proxy to make decisions as you would have made them, or if your wishes are not known, make decisions in your best interest.
Do I have to have an Advanced Directive?
No, it's your decision. You will be admitted and treated upon admission to the hospital. A healthcare provider may not condition your care or discriminate on the basis of whether you have executed such a document.
Can I have more than one Advanced Directive?
Yes. It is possible to have a Healthcare Proxy and a Living Will.
What is a DNR?
A DNR is a Do Not Resuscitate order. This is another type of Advanced Directive. This means that you would not have CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation performed if your heart and breathing stopped. You would not be placed on any type of ventilator to help you breathe.
A DNR is only discussed with you and/or your healthcare agent if the medical condition is such that there is no chance of recovery. Keep in mind that a DNR is totally independent of a Health Care Proxy. These two Advanced Directives are NOT the same.