You may have heard the term living will and have specific preferences about the type of medical care you would want if you were terminally ill or suddenly incapacitated. A living will, health care proxy and durable power of attorney are 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 in order to complete advance directives. Some of the issues to consider are life support measures, resuscitation efforts (CPR), nourishment procedures, who you wish to make decisions for you if you cannot, and other matters. To make sure we have the latest version of any advance directives, we encourage you to bring a copy with you. Federal law requires that you are informed of your right to make these decisions, and therefore, at the time of admission you will be given a booklet that explains in detail the concept of advance directives entitled, "Your Right to Make Health Care Decisions."
The four kinds of advance medical directives recognized in Colorado can be summarized as follows:
- Living will—a document you sign telling your physician not to use artificial life support measures if you become terminally ill or in a Persistent Vegetative State. Living wills may also address artificial nutrition (tube feedings) and hydration.
- Medical durable power of attorney—a person you name who will make decisions for you if you become unable to make them.
- CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) directive—an order that allows you to refuse resuscitation if your heart stops and/or you stop breathing.
- Medical Order for Scope of Treatment or MOST form – filled out in consultation with and signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. This form is a portable medical order set with patient wishes about CPR, antibiotic use, comfort medicine, artificial hydration and nutrition and other medical issues.
It is not necessary for you to have any advance directives in order for you to receive care and treatment.
For more information about advance directives, please call medical social work at 719-365-5297 or spiritual care at 719-365-2427.