Advance Directives

Your Right to Make Decisions About Medical Treatment

You have a legal right to make decisions about you future health care, and to plan now for your medical care if you are not able to speak for yourself in the future. Ideally, you have already thought about such matters at home, and took the opportunity to discuss them with your loved ones. But many patients have not focused on end-of-life decisions until confronted with a serious illness or injury that requires a hospital admission. Recognizing that this may not be the ideal time to consider such important decisions, we still take this opportunity to give information about advance healthcare directives.

The Patient Self-Determination ACT is a federal law that requires every adult at the time of hospital admission to receive written information about an individual’s right to make decisions about future medical care. This includes the right to accept or refuse treatment, and the right to create advance directives.

An Advance Healthcare Directive is an important legal document that describes a patient’s treatment wishes. It is your written statement, a legally enforceable document, stating your wishes for medical care in case of a terrible illness or injury. It also allows you to choose someone to make decisions for you if you are not able to make them or speak for yourself. This person is a surrogate, or substitute decision-maker, someone who knows you well and is familiar with your wishes and preferences. If you do not have an advance healthcare directive and need help to make one, ask the Admitting Clerk or your nurse to call our Social Worker.