Medical Care Decisions
Know Your Options
When a medical crisis occurs, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unable to fully process what is happening. Sometimes you may be asked to make medical and treatment decisions for a loved one. Many people find peace of mind knowing that if they are faced with this situation, they have a plan in place to communicate their wishes or to understand the wishes of their loved one. Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to express your medical care decisions ahead of time if you are unable to communicate for yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Advance Directives?
This legal document outlines what your healthcare choices are if you are unable to speak for yourself. Advance directives come in two main forms:
- Healthcare power of attorney (or "proxy" or "agent" or "surrogate"), which documents the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself
- Living will, which documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life
What are my rights? Who decides about my medical care or treatment?
If you are 18 or older and have the capacity to make and communicate healthcare decisions, you have the right to make decisions about your medical/mental health treatment. You should talk to you doctor or other healthcare provider about any treatment or procedure so that you understand what will be done and why. You have the right to say yes or no to treatments recommended by your doctor or mental health provider. If you want to control decisions about your health/mental health care even if you become unable to make or to express them yourself, you will need an "advance directive."
Do I have to have an Advance Directive and what happens if I don't?
Making a living will, a health care power of attorney or an advance instruction for mental health treatment is your choice. If you become unable to make your own decisions; and you have no living will, advance instruction for mental health treatment, or a person named to make medical/mental health decisions for you ("healthcare agent"), your doctor or health/mental healthcare provider will consult with someone close to you about your care.
If you would like more information or assistance in initiating an advance directive, we can assist you. Please ask your nurse to contact the Case Manager for more information.
When difficult decisions need to be made...
If you find yourself having to make a difficult medical decision, you are not alone. Our Ethics Committee can talk through your options with you and help you reach a decision you are comfortable with. The Ethics Committee includes specially trained physicians, nurses, other healthcare professionals, clergy, community members and a medical ethicist. They are available to listen to your situation objectively and help you work through the decision process.
To get in touch with the Ethics Committee please ask for a referral by speaking with your nurse.