Your Right to Make Decisions About Medical Treatment
As a patient, you have the right to accept or refuse recommended medical treatments and procedures. However, you may not always be able to speak for yourself. Advance Directives are documents that tell the hospital what you want while giving you the opportunity to identify the person or persons that you would like to speak for you should you be unable to do so. These directives are helpful to your family, physicians and the hospital. Most importantly, they tell the hospitals about your preferences and values. Furthermore, the hospital is obligated to follow your directives.
IN CASE YOU CANNOT SPEAK FOR YOURSELF: MAKING AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE
When you are admitted to the hospital, federal law requires the hospital to ask if you have a directive. If you do, the hospital must place it in your medical record. If you do not, you may complete one during your hospital stay. You can obtain a form from the chaplain in Spiritual Care or a social worker in Social Services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to fill out one of these forms?
No, you do not have to fill out any of these forms if you do not want to. You can speak with your doctors and ask them to write down your preferences in your medical chart. Furthermore, you can speak with your family regarding your wishes. The hospital staff will be clearer about your wishes and follow them if they are written down. Documented treatment wishes carry more power.
When is the directive in effect?
The Advance Directive will be in effect when you cannot speak for yourself. You may also decide to turn over decisions to the agent you have chosen. If you are tired, ill or for whatever reason you decide not to make your own decisions, you may tell your physician and agent.
Can I change the Advance Directive?
Yes, you may change it in writing at any time. You may also change it by telling your physician you want to do so. However that change will only last while you are in the hospital or for 60 days then you must put it in writing. Directives do not have a time limit.
Will I still be treated if I don’t fill out these forms?
Absolutely. The hospital simply wants you to know that if you become too sick to make decisions, someone else will have to make them for you.
In addition to spiritual care services, hospital chaplains are available to help patients understand the legal provisions associated with advance directives. An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to appoint an individual to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so yourself. Also it allows you the opportunity to state your wishes about the medical treatment that you do or do not want. We recommend that you discuss the advance directive with your closest family members, spiritual advisor and doctor while you are feeling well and thinking clearly.