Through a law known as the Patient Self-Determination Act, all hospitals and other healthcare organizations must inform patients of their rights to agree to or refuse medical treatment and to make advance directives. An advance directive allows patients to state their wishes, or name someone who will state their wishes for them, to receive or refuse medical treatment if they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
In most cases, patients can discuss the course of medical treatment with their physicians and families. Only when they are unable to communicate for themselves is their advance directive activated. While patients do not have to make a decision about their health care now, we encourage them to discuss their wishes with family members in advance, which can make dealing with a healthcare emergency a bit easier.
Download the Advance Directive FAQ document »
Download the Advance Directive form »
To learn more about advance directives, their legal requirements and to access more resources useful for creating these important documents, visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day Web site.