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 you write them down. For more information about
advance directives, please contact Social Services department.