A health care directive is a written document that informs others of your wishes about your health care. It allows you to name a person (“agent”) to decide for you if you are unable to decide. It also allows you to name an agent if you want someone else to decide for you. An advance directive is a legal document that allows individuals to make decisions about their medical care in the event that they become unable to communicate their wishes due to illness or injury.

These directives may include designating a healthcare proxy, who will make decisions on the individual’s behalf, or providing instructions regarding specific medical treatments, such as life-sustaining treatments. A healthcare directive can also specify the individual’s wishes regarding organ and tissue donation. These directives are important for individuals who wish to have control over their medical care and ensure that their wishes are respected, even if they are unable to make decisions for themselves.

A healthcare directive is important if your attending physician determines you can’t communicate your healthcare choices (because of physical or mental incapacity). It is also important if you wish to have someone else make your healthcare decisions. In some circumstances, your directive may state that you want someone other than an attending physician to decide when you cannot make your own decisions. You don’t have to have a healthcare directive. But, writing one helps to make sure your wishes are followed.

How Do I Make a HealthCare Directive?

  • Be in writing and dated
  • State your name
  • Be signed by you or someone you authorize to sign for you, when you can understand and communicate your health care wishes
  • Have your signature verified by a notary public or tow witnesses
  • Include the appointment of an agent to make health care decisions for you and/ or instructions about the health care choices you wish to make

You will still receive medical treatment if you don’t have a written directive. Healthcare providers will listen to what people close to you say about your treatment preferences, but the best way to be sure your wishes are followed is to have a healthcare directive.

Under state law, you have a legal right to express your health care wishes and to have them considered in situations when you are unable to make these decisions yourself. Use this form to notify your loved ones of your wishes should you be unable to make your own medical decisions.

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