Advance Directives

Advance Directives

Who will make your healthcare decisions when you are unable to speak for yourself? Discussing your wishes with your healthcare agent is an important part of the decision-making process.

A man holds his wife's hand as she lays in her hospital bed.

What is an Advance Directive?

An Advance Directive is a verbal or written statement about future healthcare decisions. The completion of an Advance Directive gives you the opportunity to share your wishes and to designate individuals to make decisions for you when you become unable to do so.

The most common form of a written Advance Directive is the Power of Attorney for Healthcare. This document appoints the person you want to make your healthcare decisions in the event you are unable to do so. An important part of any “advance planning” is the discussion about your priorities, beliefs and wishes with the individual you have chosen to speak for you. This discussion takes the burden of making those difficult decisions from your loved ones and gives them the assurance that they are following your wishes.

Keeping Your Advance Directive on File at the Hospital

Upon admission to the Hospital you will be asked if you have completed a written advance directive. If you have, it is important that a copy is placed in your medical record so that your wishes will be known. If you need a form, you can obtain one here: State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services Power of Attorney for Health Care Form.

If you do not have a written advance directive you will be asked to identify the individual you would choose to speak for you if the need were to arise, (a surrogate).

You Can Update and Replace an Earlier Advanced Directive

You will also be offered the opportunity for additional information about Advance Directives. Advance planning is always a work in progress because circumstances, values, beliefs and priorities may change. If at any time, your Advance Directive no longer reflects your wishes, you may complete a new one. If you change your Advance Directive be sure you notify not only your appointed agent but also everyone who has copies of your old form.

Organ Donation

Also, upon admission you will be asked about your wishes regarding organ donation. Information regarding this is also available from your nurse. The Hospital staff will assume you want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempted in the event your heart or breathing stops. If this is against your wishes, please consult with your physician.

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