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Legal Directives


Advance Directives are legal documents that allow anyone, 18 years or older, to make your wishes and choices known about your health care including the person who would makes decisions for you if you are unable. It is very helpful for your doctors, nurses, family and friends to know your thoughts about certain medical treatments. Upon request, you will be given a booklet titled, ‘Your Right to Decide’, containing an Advance Directive form so you can put your wishes in writing. Instructions for completing the form and ways to get help are listed in the booklet. You may obtain this booklet at any clinic or in our Admitting Office. You can give your completed Advance Directive to any healthcare provider and it will be kept on file.


HSC and the Medical Staff support your right to actively participate in decisions regarding your healthcare program, including decisions regarding the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment. If you have executed any legal documents pertaining to healthcare directives, please bring a copy with you. If you cannot bring a copy with you, the substance of the Advanced Directive will be documented in your medical record.


A Directive to Physicians, or Living Will, is a written declaration made by a competent person over 18 years of age, which explains which medical treatments you want or do not want at the end of your life. A Living Will takes effect only when you can no longer express your own wishes. Often a Living Will applies only when you suffer from a terminal illness or irreversible injury and are not expected to survive without further medical treatment.


A Medical Power of Attorney, or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, is a document that lets you name another person (agent, proxy or surrogate decision maker) to make medical care decisions for you in the event that you can no longer make those decisions for yourself. Your surrogate decision maker can make decisions anytime your health prevents you from expressing your desires even temporarily. Your medical condition does not have to be terminal or irreversible.


Any request for Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) status requires special consideration when the patient will receive anesthesia or sedating medications as part of operative or other procedures. Because any anesthetic or sedating medications may compromise circulation or respiration, physicians and anesthetists may feel obliged to treat any compromise, which is due to the anesthetic or sedating medication. Resuscitative measures, when necessary, are considered a part of routine care during anesthesia or sedation. When scheduled for surgery or other procedure requiring any form of anesthesia or sedating medication, the patient, family or designated surrogate, and those treating that patient must understand that routine anesthesia care or sedation care may include resuscitation (endotracheal intubation, ventilation or use of drugs to support circulation), regardless of the patient’s DNR status.

If resuscitation during a procedure poses a conflict with the patient’s DNR status or advance directives, the patient, family or designated surrogate should request to speak with patient’s physician regarding the conflict.