An advance directive is a legal document that tells your family, friends, and health care professionals the type and form of care that you would like to have in the event that you become physically or mentally unable to make such medical decisions yourself. These are called “advanced directives” because they are signed in advance to let others know your wishes concerning your medical treatment before you are faced with a serious injury or illness. These documents will help spare your loved ones the stress of making decisions about your care while you are sick. If you become an inpatient or receive outpatient treatment at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, our hospital staff will speak to you about advance directives and your options for executing such documents. You are not required to complete the documents, should you choose not to do so. They are not required for receiving medical care.
Because these are difficult issues to consider, we urge you to talk to your spouse, family, close friends, personal advisor, your doctors and/or your attorney before deciding whether or not you want to execute an advance directive. Also, while you do not need a lawyer to complete an advance directive, please be aware that each state has its own laws, and sometimes its own form, for creating advance directives. Any person 18 years of age or older can prepare an advance directive.
In Texas, there are three types of advance directive recognized:
1. Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney is a form that allows you to appoint another person ( your “agent”) to make medical decisions for you in the event that you become temporarily or permanently unable to make those decisions for yourself, not only at the end of life. This document only becomes effective when your physician certifies, in writing, that you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself and files the certification in your medical record.
2. A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (Living Will)
The person you choose as your agent can make decisions that include (a) agreeing to or refusing medical treatment, (b) deciding not to continue medical treatment or (c) making decisions to stop or not start life-sustaining treatment.
Your agent may NOT make decisions regarding: (a) voluntary inpatient mental health services, (b) convulsive treatment, (c) psychosurgery or (d) abortion.
A Living Will (officially called a “Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates” in Texas) is a form that allows you to tell your doctor or other health care professionals whether or not you want life-sustaining treatments or procedures administered to you if you are in a terminal or irreversible condition. This document is called a Living Will because it takes effect while you are still living. Specifically, a Living Will goes into effect when: i) your doctors has a copy of it, and ii) your doctors has concluded that you are no longer able to make your own medical decisions, and iii) your doctor has determined that you are terminally ill or in a irreversible condition.
3. An Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order
An Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order is a form prepared by you and your physician that tells medical personnel in an out-of-hospital setting (which may include home health, hospice, nursing homes, ambulances and/or hospital emergency rooms) that if you suffer cardiac arrest (your heart stops beating) or respiratory arrest (you stop breathing), they are not to try to revive you by any means.
In order to make your Directive legally binding, you must sign it, or direct another to sign it, in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the document.