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Patient Guide

Your Medical Decisions

You are the person most qualified to make decisions about your medical care, including any decisions to choose or refuse medical treatment. Advance directives help you ensure your medical wishes are carried out.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that states your instructions for how your future medical care decisions should be made when you are not able to make those decisions for yourself.

Why Should I Prepare an Advance Directive?

If you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious and unable to make your own health care decisions, your advance directive(s) will ensure that your preferences are respected.

Advance directives allow you to communicate your end-of-life care wishes not only to doctors, but also to family and friends. These documents can help family members feel more confident that they know what you would or would not want when difficult medical care decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment have to be made.

Who Needs an Advance Directive?

Some people wait until they are seriously or terminally ill to prepare an advance directive. However, anyone can be the victim of unexpected illness, accident or serious injury. It is best to complete advance directives when you feel well and have had the opportunity to discuss your wishes with your loved ones and doctors.

Types of Advance Directives

In Ohio, two types of advance directives are frequently used:

Ohio Living Will: A legal document that specifies the medical care or life-sustaining treatment you do or do not want to receive if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious and are unable to speak for yourself.

Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney: A legal document in which you designate another person (proxy) to make your health care decisions in the event you are unable to do so for yourself. A Health Care Power of Attorney takes effect when you are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to make medical decisions, even temporarily.

Obtaining Forms

A packet entitled “Choices: Living Well at the End of Life,” which includes Ohio’s Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney forms and additional information about advance directives, may be downloaded for free from LeadingAge Ohio.

After Completing an Advance Directive

If you decide to complete an advance directive, we encourage you to give copies to your physician and loved ones. Keep the original copy in a safe place where you keep your other important papers. If you are going to be admitted to a hospital, bring a copy (or copies) of your advance directive(s) with you to be included in your medical record.

Contact Us

If you have questions or concerns about advance directives, our consumer relations staff is always available to assist you.