Preparing an Advance Directive
Advance directive is a general term used to describe both the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions and the Healthcare Treatment Directive. It is a term also used to refer to living wills and informed directives people may set down in letters and conversations.
An advance directive allows you to communicate your healthcare preferences when you can no longer make your own decisions. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that adults with decision-making capacity have a constitutional right to refuse any medical treatment, including ventilators and feeding tubes. State laws also authorize you to make a decision for you when you cannot.
The advance directive has been developed to help you document your wishes about healthcare. It has two parts:
1. Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions: allows you to name a person to make healthcare decisions for you.
2. Healthcare Treatment Directive: a document that allows you to state in advance your wishes regarding the kind of healthcare treatment you want when you cannot make or communicate these decisions.
You may complete one or both of these forms. They will be most helpful and informative if you also discuss your wishes with your loved ones, friends, and healthcare providers as part of your advance care planning.
These documents are intended to ensure that your wishes will be known and followed. In most cases, the documents become effective only when you can no longer make or communicate decisions for yourself. However, if you name a person to make healthcare decisions for you in a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, you may choose to make his or her authority effective immediately for the limited purpose of having full access to your medical records and for conferring with your healthcare provider and yourself about your medical conditions.
For help in filling out an Advance Directive, please contact the Social Services Department at the Hiawatha Community Hospital. Forms are available in the office.
Kim Jones, RN