You have the right to make choices regarding your health care. You can prepare for the possibility that you will be unable to make health care decisions by making your wishes known in advance. Your wishes can be communicated through "advance directives." You have the right to name someone else to make health care decisions for you when you cannot. You can do this by completing a power of attorney for health care. In this document, you can name an adult relative or friend that you trust as your "agent" to speak for you when you are too sick to make your own decisions. After you chose your agent, be sure that your agent understands your wishes and will be comfortable communicating your wishes should the need arise.
The types of decisions your agent can make include to approval or disapproval of tests, procedures and medications; selection and discharge of a provider or institution; directions to provide, withhold/withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration, and all other forms of health care.
If you wish, you can limit the type of decisions your agent can make for you. You can also give an advance directive about when you would or would not want medical treatment. You can indicate when you would choose to prolong life, whether you wish to be kept free of pain, even if it were to speed up death, or any other special wishes you have regarding your healthcare. Please discuss your wishes with your physicians, especially your primary care physician.
You can also give an advance directive as to which, if any, organs you would like to donate in the event of your death. You do not have to have a written advance directive. You may communicate your wishes to your physicians and nurses, and ask them to write down your wishes in the chart. However, your wishes will probably be clearer and more likely to be accepted by your family and others, if your write them down. For more information about advance directives, please contact Social Services department.