Legal & Ethical Decisions
Advance Directives and Other Legal Medical Decisions
While you’re in the hospital, you may have to make decisions about your care. At Hi-Desert Medical Center, we want to make sure you are well informed when making those decisions.
It can be difficult to talk about a serious illness or life-threatening emergency. Yet, before you’re faced with either, it’s important to make sure your loved ones know how you want your medical care handled if you become unable to make your own medical decisions. An advance directive can help you do that.
- How it works: An advance directive is a tool that can help you tell others about your wishes regarding treatments such as resuscitation and life-support machines. This legal document allows you to state what your preferences are for medical care and may be used to accept or refuse any procedure or treatment, including life-sustaining treatment. You are not required to complete an advance directive. Choosing to sign one is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong decision.
- Where to distribute: If you choose to complete one, the originals should be given to your health care agent. They should also be made part of your permanent medical record and copies filed with your doctor. Copies should also be provided to family members or close friends who might accompany you to the hospital. Please bring your advance directive to Hi-Desert Medical Center, so that it can be made part of your hospital record.
You have the right to revoke your advance directive or replace it at any time.
Types of Advance Directives
- Living will: This is a written, legal document that clearly states what types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don’t want. These can include being placed on a ventilator (a machine that breathes for you), having tube feeding, undergoing surgery, etc. You also may hear the living will called a health care declaration or health care directive.
- Durable power of attorney for health care decisions: Also called a medical power of attorney, this legal document designates someone to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so. The person you designate is your health care agent or proxy. This document applies only to medical decisions and does not grant this person the rights to make financial transactions for you.
Choosing a Health Care Agent
You should carefully consider whom you would designate as your health care agent. This person doesn’t have to be a member of your family. You should feel comfortable with the person you choose and be able to discuss end-of-life decisions with him or her. Once you’ve made the decision, you should talk with that person to make sure he or she is willing to act as your agent for health care decisions. Once he or she agrees, you also should inform your family and doctor about who you’ve selected. Some people also choose an alternate in case the first person can’t be reached in an emergency.
Hi-Desert Medical Center has a patient representative who serves as an advocate for your health care needs. If you have any questions and advance directives, please call the patient representative at (760) 366-6428.