Advance directive gives medical care instructions

Health Watch

What would happen if following an accident or severe illness you were left unable to communicate with the world around you? How are you going to make decisions regarding your health care? Who would make those decisions for you? Is there a way you can make yourself heard when you are unable to communicate? Yes there is. By completing an advance directive you can make your voice heard.

Advance directive is a general term that refers to legal documents that allow you to give instructions about your future medical care in the event that you become unable to speak for yourself because of serious illness or incapacity. Every person over the age of 18 should complete an advance directive.

Where can you get advance directive forms to fill out? To obtain forms contact your physician’s office, local hospital or an attorney.

What should you do with your advance directives once it is completed? Once you have completely filled out your advance directives you should provide a signed copy to the person you’ve designated, your physician’s office and bring a copy with you whenever you are admitted to a hospital.

Will the hospital keep your advance directive on file? No, you should bring a copy of your advance directive to the hospital each time you are admitted. Sometimes patients change their advance directives, and it is important that your hospital has your most current version.

Also, most advance directives require you to review and sign the form annually. By doing so you ensure that you have the most up to date information on the form.

Todd Peltola, RN, BCMH Quality Management Coordinator