Advance Medical Directives
Make Your Health Care Wishes Known
Have you asked yourself what would happen if you could no longer make decisions about your medical care and treatment because you were seriously ill or injured. How do you feel about ventilators, surgery, resuscitation (CPR), drugs or tube-feedings if you were senile, terminally-ill or unconscious and not likely to wake up? How would your family and physician know your wishes? Who would make these decisions on your behalf?
You plan for many other things in your life. An advance directive helps you plan ahead and communicate your health care wishes before you’re not able. It’s a form you fill out so that your doctors and others will know what medical care you want if you become too sick to communicate or make your own decisions. Advance directives are not just for the elderly. Unexpected situations such as a serious accident or life-threatening event like a stroke or heart attack, can happen at any time and at any age.
Why a Directive?
Two types of advance directives are a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also called a Patient Advocate form) and a Living Will. Many people complete an advance directive form that includes both the Patient Advocate form and the Living Will.
A Patient Advocate form gives an adult family member or friend the legal rights to make health care decisions for you. This person becomes your Patient Advocate. Your Patient Advocate can only make medical decisions for you when it’s clear you can no longer make them yourself. No one can require you to have an advance directive. You’ll still receive health care treatment from Metro Health without one.
It’s important that you talk about the medical care choices you want with your Patient Advocate. You can write out these choices in a form called a Living Will. Although it isn’t legally binding in Michigan, a Living Will helps your Patient Advocate and doctor know what care you would want under certain conditions. We’ll follow the decisions made by your Patient Advocate, as long as he or she follows the wishes you put into your advance directive, and the laws of the state of Michigan.
Obviously, you can make your own treatment choices as long as you’re competent – meaning you can understand your condition and the results your decisions may have. But if you’re no longer competent, and you’ve made sure your family knows what you would want, it’s much easier for them and us to follow your wishes. Without the benefit of an advance directive, families have been torn apart trying to decide what’s best for a loved one. In the event of disagreements or disputes, the court may have to name a guardian to make decisions on your behalf – and this person would likely be a stranger to you.
If you have an advance directive, please bring a copy with you to your next visit to your doctor or the Hospital. We’ll make a copy to put into your medical record.
If you have questions, call Metro Health Hospital’s Legal Services Department at (616) 252-7394.