Medical Directives

The Patient Self-Determination Act is a federal law requiring all adult patients be provided the right to accept or refuse treatment and the right to develop their own advance directive on medical care issues.

Advanced Directives

An advance directive, or advanced health care directive, is a legal document needed for someone else to be allowed to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. These documents may give someone you trust the authority to make decisions for your health care treatment and can direct your medical team on what care you do and do not wish to receive. Your advanced directives have nothing to do with your money or properties. Advanced directives are only about your medical care. 

The two most common are durable power of attorney for health care and living will. You do not have to prepare an advanced directive if you do not want one. If you do prepare one, you have the right to change or cancel at any time. If you wish to change or cancel an advance directive while in the hospital you should notify your physician, care team, family and others who need to know. If you need additional information about advance directives, please ask for assistance from your care team. 

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care/Health Care Proxy is a legal document allows you to designate an agent or proxy to make your health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. This may be permanent or temporary, depending on your situation. This person should be someone whom you trust to follow your wishes. Your health care provider cannot be your medical proxy, unless they are also your relative.

Living Will

A living will is a legal document written and signed by the patient to inform health care providers and family members what care you do and do not want to receive in various circumstances.


As a patient, you have the right to make health care decisions and plan what should be done if you are not able to speak for yourself.

Your doctors will give you information and advice about treatment. You have the right to choose. You can say "yes" to treatments you want. You can say "no" to any treatment you do not want even if the treatment might prolong your life. 

Your doctor is required to tell you about your medical condition, the different treatments available and any side effects those treatments may cause. 

It is helpful if you communicate in advance what you want to happen if you can't speak for yourself. There are several kinds of advance directives that you can se to make end of life decisions and/or to name who you want to speak for you. 

You can, if you are 18 years or older and of sound mind. You do not need a lawyer to fill it out. 

You can choose an adult relative or friend you trust as your agent to speak for you if you're too sick to make your own decisions. 

After you choose someone to act as your advocate, talk with them about what you do and do not want as a part of your care. In addition, speak with your doctor and provide them, your advocate and the hospital a copy of any legal documents you've prepared. 

Treatment decisions can be difficult to make on behalf of a loved one. Communicating to our advocate and doctors helps everyone involved in your care understand your wishes.