You have the right to make decisions about your own medical treatment. These decisions become more difficult if, due to illness or a change in mental condition, you are unable to tell your physician and loved ones what kind of healthcare treatments you want. That is why it is important for you to make your wishes known in advance.
What are Advance Directives?
A living will, healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney are the legal documents that allow you to give direction to medical personnel, family and friends concerning your future care when you cannot speak for yourself. You do not need a lawyer to complete advance directives. Here is a brief description of each kind of directive:
A living will is a set of instructions documenting your wishes about life-sustaining medical care. It is used if you become terminally ill, incapacitated or unable to communicate or make decisions. A living will protects your rights to accept or refuse medical care and removes the burden of making decisions from your family, friends and medical professionals.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a person (agent) you appoint to make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so. Choose someone you know well and trust to represent your preferences. Be sure to discuss this with the person before naming him or her as your agent. Remember that an agent may have to use his or her judgment in the event of a medical decision for which your wishes aren’t known.
For more information, visit dukeregional.org/plan.