A federal law requires hospitals and other health agencies to inform patients about their right to accept or refuse care. Patients also have the right to make a verbal or written statement, called an advance directive, about what medical decisions are to be made on their behalf.
The three most common forms of advance directives are: Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Appointment of Agent to Make Anatomical Gift. Health care facilities are required to document in the medical records if a patient has an advance directive, and the intent of the advance directive if the document is not available.
Formulating an advance directive gives you the opportunity to plan ahead for your health care and helps to provide someone authorized by you to make decisions in a crisis situation on your behalf. Also, it allows health care professionals and your family members to make decisions for treatment based on your expressed wishes if you are no longer able to do so.
Please let your nurse know if you have an advance directive and feel free to ask your nurse any questions or for assistance with forms.
To help patients, families and the hospitals that serve them, the American Hospital Association (AHA), with the cooperation of other organizations, has compiled key resources to enhance educational efforts and raise awareness around this important issue. For more information, visit their website by clicking here.