Advance directives are legal documents that allow individuals to express their healthcare preferences and make decisions about their medical treatment in the event that they become incapacitated and are unable to communicate their wishes. These directives typically include instructions about the type of medical treatment that an individual wishes to receive or refuse, as well as guidance on end-of-life care.
There are several different types of advance directives, including:
- Living will: A living will is a document that outlines an individual’s preferences for medical treatment in the event that they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
- Durable power of attorney for healthcare: This type of advance directive designates an individual to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient in the event that they are unable to do so themselves.
- Do not resuscitate (DNR) order: A DNR order instructs medical personnel not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient’s heart or breathing stops.
- Provider orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST): A POLST is a medical order that outlines a patient’s preferences for end-of-life care, such as whether or not they want to be resuscitated or receive artificial life support.
Advance directives are important because they allow individuals to have a say in their medical treatment and ensure that their wishes are respected, even if they are unable to communicate them. It is important to discuss advance directives with family members, healthcare providers, and other relevant individuals to ensure that everyone is aware of an individual’s wishes and that they are followed in the event of a medical emergency.