Your Medical Decisions
Your decisions about your medical care, should you become terminally ill or unable to make decisions yourself, can be expressed using an advance directive. This includes the right to choose, or refuse, medical treatment. There are several different advance directives that instruct your physician, family, and friends regarding your future health care preferences:
Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) will respect your right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment, as well as your right to sign a living will or health care power of attorney document. However, under no circumstances will the services provided to you be made based on whether or not you have signed an advance directive.
Document Your Treatment Preferences
Advance directive is a general legal term that refers to a person’s instructions for how future medical care decisions should be made when he or she is no longer able to make those decisions. An advance directive is most often a formal, written document, but may also be a verbal statement by the patient.
For example, if an elderly patient becomes incapacitated by dementia, an advance directive would describe the kind of medical care she would want if she could no longer make informed decisions. If a seriously ill patient lapses into a coma from which he’ll never recover, an advance directive would express his wishes for continuing or ending treatment when he can no longer speak for himself.
Communicate Your Wishes for Life-sustaining Treatment
Advance directives allow individuals to communicate their end-of-life care wishes not only to their doctors but also to family and friends. These documents spare loved ones the stress of making difficult medical care decisions at an emotional time. They also prevent any confusion about what the individual’s wishes are regarding life-sustaining treatment. Advance directives can also indicate an individual’s wishes regarding organ donation.
Who Needs an Advance Directive?
Some people wait until they are seriously or terminally ill to prepare an advance directive. However, anyone may be the victim of unexpected illness, accident, or serious injury. Creating an advance directive while you’re healthy is the best way to document your preferences for medical care if you suddenly become incapacitated.
Types of Advance Directives in Ohio
There are four different types of legal documents within the general term advance directive: living will, health care power of attorney, do not resuscitate order, and organ and tissue donation.
This type of advance directive is a written, legal document that states the medical care or life-sustaining treatments an individual does or does not want if he or she becomes terminally ill or unconscious and unable to make those decisions. A living will does not grant someone else the power to make medical care decisions for the individual.
Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA)
This is a written advance directive in which an individual designates another person to make health care decisions in the event the individual is unable to do so. An HCPOA takes effect when an individual is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to make medical decisions, even temporarily.
Do not Resuscitate (DNR) Order
An individual uses this type of advance directive to request that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) not be used if his or her heart stops or if he or she stops breathing. An individual may use either an advance directive form or verbally tell the doctor he or she does not wish to be resuscitated. In this case, the doctor will put a DNR order in the patient’s medical chart.
The DNR order is focused on selected patients such as those with multiple medical problems or a terminal illness. If you have already discussed this advance directive with your doctor, please show your order form, wallet card, or bracelet to the hospital staff.
Organ and Tissue Donation
An individual uses this type of advance directive to indicate he or she wishes to make an organ/tissue donation at death.
The Ohio Advance Directives Packet, which includes Living Will Declaration and health care power of attorney forms, is available for free download from Ohio Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.
Upon request, UVMC’s Pastoral Care Department will provide general information and assistance with completing the living will and health care power of attorney forms. Notary services are also available. Please ask your nurse to contact a chaplain at (937) 440-7575.
After Completing a Form
If you decide to complete one or more of these forms, you are encouraged to give copies to your lawyer, personal physician, and loved ones.
If you are a new patient being admitted to the hospital and have an advance directive, please provide a copy of your living will and health care power of attorney forms to your nurse. The nurse will place the copies in your medical record. Please do not give the originals to the nurse. The nursing staff can arrange to have copies made.
Also, you can file your advance directive with the County Recorder’s office. If it already has been filed and you are admitted to the hospital, you can request that a copy be mailed to the hospital, free of charge, by calling the Recorder’s office in the county where the advance directive was filed.
Our Pastoral Care staff is available to assist you if you have questions or concerns about advance directives. Call (937) 440-7575 for assistance.
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