Advance Directives

Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

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It is the belief of Trinitas Regional Medical Center that competent adults have the right to make decisions affecting their health care. To this end, Trinitas employees will attempt to determine whether a patient being admitted has a Living Will, or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care document. These documents, commonly referred to as Advance Directives, express the patient's wishes in advance of medical treatment or medical emergencies and solve a number of problems and clear up a number of issues in advance.

Advance Directives will be honored according to the patient's wishes. The Pastoral Care or Department of Social Work will follow up with the patient/family requesting information regarding an Advance Directive/Living Will.

Patients receive written information regarding their individual rights, including the right to make an Advance Directive/Living Will.

Trinitas will not discriminate against any patient with regard to provision of care or in any other way based upon the presence or absence of an Advance Directive/Living Will.

Key Facts

  • Advance Directives are legal documents

  • A person must be over 18 years of age to create their own Advance Directives

  • The completion of Advance Directives documents must be witnessed by 2 adults

  • The Advanced Directive document must comply with state law

  • The law protects health care workers from any legal action

  • A patient's medical record must indicate presence of an Advance Directive (or lack thereof)

  • The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) requires health-care facilities that receive federal funding to discuss Advance Directives with patients.

  • At the time of admission, staff must provide patients with written information about their right to make health-care decisions.

Documentation of Advance Directives

Click here to go to the Living Will Registry Web Site

The existence of an advance directive, or lack of one, must be entered into the patient's permanent medical record.

If the patient has a copy of an existing advanced directive, 3 copies will be made with 2 copies placed on the medical record and one forwarded to the Director of Mission Effectiveness.

If the patient does not have a copy, they will be asked to bring a copy to be placed on medical record

If the patient has no advanced directive, the patient or family will be offered a copy of the Advance Directive Informant packet.

Frequently-Asked Questions

What are Advance Medical Directives?
Advanced Directives are written documents that allow patients to give directions about future medical care.

What is a Living Will?
A Living Will provides written instructions regarding a person's wishes regarding health care. Without a Living Will family members make some or all health care decisions. It allows one to name a person (called a proxy) to make decisions if you are unable to do so.

These decisions may concern health care, legal matters, finances and other important matters.

Problems can occur if your family members do not know your wishes, or disagree about the best course of action to take in regard to your medical treatment.

Without a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care documents in place, a hospital physician who does not know you may become your decision maker.

Could my family prevent my advance directive from taking effect?
Generally, no - though it depends on state law. When families object, hospital staff may be called in to help them understand that the right thing to do is to honor the patient's wishes.

Do I need to talk to a lawyer?
It's up to you. You can sign - and even create an Advance Directive without a lawyer's assistance. However, some people feel more secure if a lawyer looks the documents over.

Can I still get treatment for pain if I have an Advance Directive?
Absolutely. An Advance Directive gives you the ability to be very specific about what kinds of treatment you do or do not want.

Can I change or cancel my Advance Directive?
Yes. As with a will, changes can be made to an advance directive at any time by adding or removing items. An Advance Directive can be canceled by saying "I revoke my Advance Directive" before a witness.

Related Terms

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
An emergency procedure for reviving a patient whose heart has stopped beating.

A machine (also known as a ventilator) to keep the lungs working when a patient has lost the ability to breathe on his or her own.

"Do Not Resuscitate" A DNR order prevents the health-care team from taking any measures to revive the patient. The DNR must be noted on the patient's chart.

Total Parenteral Nutrition
Artificial nutrition and hydration, this is a method for supplying water and nutrients to a patient who can no longer eat or drink.

Terminal Illness
In general, a terminal illness is one that is incurable and is expected to bring about death within one year.

The use of a special machine to help clean the blood when the kidneys aren't working properly.

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