Types of Advance Directives
There are different types of Advance Directives. A living will is one type which can specify what type of medical treatments or life-sustaining efforts you would want should you become seriously ill. However if you want to give a family member power to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated, you must have a durable power of attorney (DPA). Because DPAs become active any time you become unable to make medical decisions, this type of Advance Directive may be preferable if you have someone you trust to make your medical decisions. Another important Advance Directive is a do not resuscitate order (DNR). DNRs go into your medical chart and are recognized throughout the states. They prohibit health care professionals from performing CPR on you if your heart or lungs stop. Without a DNR, doctors will attempt to resuscitate critical patients. If this is treatment you would not want, you should obtain an official DNR for your medical file.
Advance Directives address a number of potential issues, including life-prolonging treatments (those not meant to cure but simply to keep the patient alive such as CPR or dialysis), terminal conditions (what sort of treatment you want if there is no cure for your illness), vegetative states such as comas in which there is no expectation of recovery, DNRs (orders to prevent medical professionals from reviving the patient should his heart or breath fail), and the use of feeding tubes to hydrate and nourish the patient, comfort care (you can decide to reject “aggressive medical treatment” and still receive antibiotics, pain medication, or any treatment that is for comfort but not cure), and organ donation.
End of Life Care
Advance Directives Help Clarify Patient Wishes