To ensure that your health care wishes are honored, Provena recommends that patients and families develop a plan for their medical wishes in the event that they are faced with a life limiting illness.
Part of advance care planning is developing "advance directives," two types of legal documents that enable you to plan for and communicate your end-of-life issues in the event you are unable to communicate:
- A living will allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life, including initiating and withdrawing life support, as well as life prolonging treatments.
- A medical power of attorney (or health care proxy) allows you to appoint a person you trust as your health care agent (or surrogate decision maker), who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf, when you are unable to do so.
- It is important to discuss your wishes with your family and physician and give them copies of your advance directives.
Advance directives are legally valid throughout the United States. The laws governing advance directives vary from state to state, so it is important to complete and sign advance directives that comply with your state's law.