A health care directive is a written document that informs other 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.
A health care directive is important if your attending physician determines you can’t communicate your health care choices (because of physical or mental incapacity). It is also important if you wish to have someone else make your health care 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 health care directive. But, writing one helps to make sure your wishes are followed.
How Do I Make a Health Care 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. Health care 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 health care 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.
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