Your rights as a patient
It is your right to make decisions when it comes to your medical care. This includes not only the right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment, but also the right to create advance directives.
Listing your choices about your healthcare before there is a need can help your family in the event of a crisis. It eases the responsibility and stress of making hard decisions. Make your wishes known. It will help your doctor provide guidelines for your care.
If you are caring for a loved one, learn about when it might be the right time to talk to them about making those choices.
What are advance directives?
Advance directives are communication tools. They are documents written in case you fall ill or become too sick to make your wishes known. Advance directives describe your choices for healthcare. They also can name someone to make those choices for you if you can’t.
These decisions may include:
- Whether you would like to receive specific treatments or not
- How you feel about being put on life support
- When or if doctors and medical staff should stop treatment
- Whether you would want life-saving treatments
Types of advance directives
There are several types of advance directives. The three most often mentioned are:
- Living Will Declaration
- Durable Power of Attorney – Healthcare Decisions (DPOA-HD)
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
Living Will Declaration
A Living Will Declaration (LWD) can include your decision about hard choices such as whether to stay on life support. If you are unconscious, your living will tells your family your end of life wishes. Your family must follow the rules you put in your living will.
In order for your living will to become a legal document, you have to see two doctors. Those two doctors must agree that you have a terminal illness and will not get better regardless of whether you seek medical care or not. You will be able to have pain medicine and other comfort care.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions (DPOA-HCD)
This document, also known as a DPOA-HCD allows you to put someone else in charge of your healthcare decisions. If you are unable to make choices for any reason, your DPOA-HCD can do it for you.
The person you designate becomes known as your “agent” and should be someone who knows your goals and values. This is a person you trust. Your agent should not be your doctor or nurse or anyone who takes care of you. Your agent is allowed to:
- Give consent, refuse consent or withdrawn consent to medical care.
- Make decisions about organ and tissue donation
- Make decisions about whether you’ll get an autopsy after death
- Make all necessary arrangements for hospitalization, doctors or other care
- Request and receive all information and records and sign releases for your records
You get to choose what your agent can and cannot do. You may also give instructions about any treatment you may or may not want to have, such as surgery or artificial nutrition and hydration.
Your agent and doctor have to do what you say. Unless you say otherwise, your DPOA-HCD gives your agent the right to make a choice on whether or not you stay on life support or get life-sustaining treatment. You don’t have to be terminally ill to use a DPOA-HCD.
To be a legal document, both the DPOA-HCD and the LWD documents must be notarized or witnessed by two adults who are not related to you and who will not inherit from you.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) directive
When you sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form, you’re saying that you do not want to be revived if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.
This document must be signed by a doctor before you become unconscious.
A DNR is different from a living will because it gives instructions to EMS personnel that they are not to use life-saving measures.
Kansas recognizes all of these documents as legal documents.
How to set up an advance directive
If you have questions or need help setting up any of the above advance directives, tell your nurse, case manager or admissions counselor.
Our NMC Health staff will help you set up whichever document you want to add to your records. You may also request the chaplain to visit with you should you wish to discuss your medical/ethical decisions surrounding your advance directives.
NMC Health staff can help with
- Providing forms
- Witnessing forms
- Notarizing forms
- Photocopying for your records
Advance directive help for non-patients
If you are not currently a patient, NMC Health still offers assistance to help you with advance health care planning. You may call our Chaplain at (316) 804-6022 to make a personal appointment.
Documents can be changed or revoked at any time by replacing them with new updated ones.
We appreciate you providing copies of your completed directive documents upon admission to the hospital or confirming that one is already on file with us reflect your most current health care choices