Understanding the importance of advance directives
What are advance directives?Advance directives are legal documents written before you become terminally ill or incapacitated. The documents are prepared to speak for you when you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself. The documents state your choices about treatments, or designate someone to make those choices for you. Through advance directives, you can make legally valid decisions about your future medical treatment.
ProHealth Care recognizes three forms of advance directives — The Power of Attorney for Health Care (POAHC), the Declaration to Physicians (Wisconsin “Living Will”), and the Community Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.
Power of attorney for health care (POAHC) Having a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) is a legal way for you to appoint another person to be your health care "agent." As your agent, the appointed person will make healthcare decisions for you if or when you become incapacitated. Incapacitated is the medical term used to describe someone who is unable to receive and/or evaluate information effectively, or unable to communicate to such an extent that he or she is unable to make sound healthcare decisions. Under Wisconsin law, a person can be declared incapacitated only after being examined by two physicians or a physician and a licensed psychologist.
You can download a printable Power of Attorney for Health Care form (pdf) from our Web site in PDF format. (Please note: To open this document, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader software, which is available free on the Adobe Web site.)
Living will This form allows you to direct your physician about your preferences for life-sustaining procedures and feeding tubes in the event you have a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state. This type of form does not provide you an opportunity to name a health care agent. Instead, it is simply a declaration of your choices to your healthcare providers.
Community do not resuscitate (DNR) A DNR order is a way to let first responders know that you do not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempted if you were to have a heart attack while at home or in the community. Your primary care physician can provide more information about a DNR order and when it is appropriate.
Why we ask about advance directives Completing your POAHC is an important step in advance care planning. As your life circumstances and health change, your views on what you would want in health care may also change. It is important to keep your Health Care Agent and physician updated on how you wish to be treated. How well your Health Care Agent makes decisions for you depends on how well you prepare them.
Advance directives at ProHealth Care Your physician and the healthcare staff want to follow your wishes regarding your health care options. When you are admitted to a ProHealth entity, a caregiver will ask you (or a family member if you are unable to speak for yourself) if you have completed one of these documents. If you have, we will ask you for a copy. If you have not completed one and you are interested in more information about the process, please ask your caregiver about Advance Directives.
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