An advance medical directive is a document that allows you to decide now about your future medical care. It is a set of directions for the kind of medical care you want if you cannot make decisions and communicate your wishes in the future.
An advance medical directive is a powerful communication tool. If you are ever unable to express your wishes because you are too ill, it will guide your family and physicians in your care. Before making your final decisions to be expressed in an advanced medical directive, it’s a good idea to discuss options with your family members, spiritual advisor, your physician, or your attorney.
Pioneers Medical Center will provide you with excellent reference material to read in order to learn more about your medical care decisions and advance directives. You DO NOT need an attorney to complete an advance medical directive form. Your family physician or clergy can help you.
There are two kinds of advance medical directives:
A cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) directive is a form allowing you or your medical proxy to refuse resuscitation (CPR) if you stop breathing or your heart stops. If you have a CPR directive and your heart and/or lungs top functioning, healthcare personnel will NOT begin CPR, assist with respiration, or use electric shock to revive you.
If you do not have a “Do Not Resuscitate” order or a CPR directive and your heart and/or lungs stop functioning, hospital personnel will always attempt to resuscitate you. A CPR directive is generally signed by patients with a terminal illness or sometimes by very frail, elderly patients.
If a patient becomes unable to make medical decisions and does not have an advance directive, family members and/or a close friend may be asked to select a substitute decision maker, called a medical proxy, who makes the patient’s healthcare choices.