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Advance Directives

Simply put, an Advance Directive is a written document made while you are competent that states your choices of health care—such as alternate forms of treatment or setting limits on treatment—and/or the name of someone to make those choices in the event that you lose decision-making capacity.

By state and federal law, we must inform patients of the option of creating an advance directive and distribute advance directive material (Who Will Decide if You Can't?) to each patient before care is provided. If a patient is incapacitated when care begins, we must ensure information is provided once he/she is no longer incapacitated.

Through an advance directive, such as a living will or durable power of attorney, you can make legally binding decisions about future care should you become incapacitated or cannot speak for yourself.

  • A durable power of attorney document designates another person to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you lose decision-making capacity.
  • A living will is a document in which you can stipulate whether you want life-sustaining treatment in the event you become unable to make your own decisions.

To ensure your health care delivery preferences are followed, it is important to plan in advance, to talk to people close to you about your wishes, and to consider executing an advance directive. Whether or not you have an advance directive, you will be cared for and not discriminated against.

If You Pursue an Advance Directive, It Is Important To:

  • Ask questions of your physician, nurse, therapist, social worker, chaplain/clergy or any other health care professional involved in your care.
  • Be sure you have the information you need to make decisions. If anything is unclear, feel free to ask questions again.
  • Share your feelings about your decisions with your family.
  • Discuss your feelings, decisions and any personal or religious reasons why you do not desire some form of medical treatment with your physician.
  • Arrange to meet with your attorney to discuss your choices and address legal matters, such as personal wills.

The state of Washington operates a 24-hour hotline for you to use if you have any concerns or wish to register a complaint concerning the implementation of the advance directive requirements. The toll-free number is 800-633-6828.

Organ Donation

Questions often arise when an individual is considering these types of decisions. If you decide to become a donor, your decision should be recorded with the proper agency or expressed to the Organ Donation Association at 800-422-3310. In Washington State, organ donor designation can be indicated on your driver's license.