As a patient, you have the right to participate in the decision-making process of your medical care. You have the right to refuse treamtent, including life-sustaining treatment. State law allows you to make an "advance directive" concerning your medical treatments, particularly end-of-life care, before such a time arrives. In Texas, there are four kinds of advance directives:
Directive to Physicians
A Directive to Physicians, also known as a "living will", allows you to tell your physician not to use artificial methods to prolong the process of dying if you are terminally ill. A Directive does not become effective until your physician has diagnosed you with a terminal or irreversible condition.
If for some reason you become unable to sign a written Directive, you can issue a Directive verbally or by other means of non-written communication, in the presence of your physician and appropriate witnesses.
If you have not issued a Directive and become unable to communicate after being diagnosed witha terminal or irreversible condition, your attending physician and legal guardian or legal next-of-kin can make decisions concerning withdrawing, withholding or providing life sustaining treatment. It is, however, vitally important that you communicate your wishes to them while you are able.
Medical Power of Attorney
to download a printable version to Directive to Physicians
Another type of advance directive is a Medical Power of Attorney which allows you to designate someone you trust - an agent - to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make these decisions yourself.
You cannot choose as your agent your health care provider, including a physician, hospital or nursing home; an employee of your health care provider, unless he is your relative; your residential care provider, such as a nursing home or hospice; or an employee of your residential care provider, unless he is related to you.
The person you designate has authority to make health care decisions on your behalf when you attending physician certifies that you lack the capacity to make your own health care decisions. Your agent cannot make a health care decision if you object, regardless of whether you have the capacity to make the health care decision yourself, or wheterh a Medical Power of Attorney is in effect.
Your agent must make health care decisions after consulting with your attending physician, and according to the agent's knowledge of your wishes, including your religious and moral beliefs. If your wishes are unknown, your agent must make a decision based on what she believes is in your best interest.
Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order
to download a printable version of Medical Power of Attorney
An Out-of-Hospital Do-Not Resuscitate Order allows you to refuse certain life sustaining treatments in any setting outside of a hospital. Your attending phyisican must also sign this advance directive.
Declaration for Mental Health Treatment
to download a printable version of Out of Hospital Do Not Resuscitate
Another type of advance directive deals with mental health treatment issues only. A Declaration for Mental Health Treatment allows you to tell health care providers your choices for mental health treatment, in the event you become incapacitated.
Legal Aspects of Advance Directives
Although an Advance Directive does not need to be notarized, your signature should, however, be witnessed by two qualified witnesses. Neither this hospital nor your physician may require you to execute an advance directive as a condition for admittance or receiving treatment in this or any other hospital. The fact that you have executed an advance directive will not affect any insurance policies that you may have. Advance directives can be changed or cancelled at any time.
Advance Directives and this Hospital
Formal policies have been adopted to assure that your rights to make medical treatment decisions will be honored to the extent permitted by law. We will provide advance directive forms for you at your request. If you would like copies of these forms, please ask your nurse or a member of the staff.