Making Medical Decisions

Advance Medical Directive

An advance medical directive is a form that lets you plan ahead for the care you’d want if you could no longer express your wishes.

Writing Down Your Wishes

• Decide what is important to you and the treatment you’d want.

• An advance directive is important whether you’re young or old. Injury or illness can strike at any age.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

• Ferrell Hospital has paperwork that will help you make your decisions regarding your medical care known. This form lets you name someone else to be your agent.

• This person can decide on treatment for you only when you can’t speak for yourself.

• You do not need to be at the end of your life. He or she could speak for you if you were in a coma but were likely to recover.

A Living Will

• This form lets you list the care you want at the end of your life.

• A living will applies only if you won’t live without medical treatment. It would apply if you had advanced cancer or a massive stroke.

• It takes effect only when you can no longer express your wishes yourself.

An Agent’s Role for Durable Power of Attorney

It’s impossible to know which medical treatment choices you might face in the future. What if you aren't able to make these decisions for yourself? A durable power of attorney for health care lets you name an agent to carry out your wishes. This happens only if you can’t express your wishes yourself.

• Your agent’s duty is to see that your wishes are followed.

• If your wishes aren’t known, your agent should try to decide what you want.

• Your agent’s choices come before anyone else’s wishes for you.

• Your agent has no control over your money. Your agent also can’t be made to pay your bills.

 Find Out What Your Agent Can Do

Restrictions on what an agent can and can’t do vary by state. Check your state laws. In most states your agent can:

• Choose or refuse life-sustaining and other medical treatment on your behalf.

• Consent to and then stop treatment if your condition doesn’t improve.

• Access and release your medical records.

• Request an autopsy and donate your organs, unless you’ve stated otherwise on your advance directive.