What are Advance Directives?
The law permits you to make decisions regarding your medical treatment in advance of a time when you are unable to communicate such wishes. Your medical treatment wishes are conveyed through an Advance Directive form. The Advance Directive allows individuals to specify what type of treatment is or is not desired. You may want to appoint a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, which can be done on the Advance Directive form. Naming a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows the person you designate to make health care decisions for you if at any time you lose the capacity to make medical decisions for yourself.
Who can assist with Advance Directive decisions?
The NHS chaplains will assist in answering questions about the Advance Directive. You may also want to discuss your decisions with your primary care physician, attorney, family members or others who you believe are qualified to help. Your minister, priest or rabbi may help resolve any moral, spiritual, or ethical questions.
When does the Advance Directive become effective?
According to Arkansas law, an Advance Directive becomes effective under the following conditions:
- When it is communicated to the attending physician and
- When the attending physician and another physician, in consultation, determine that the patient is in a terminal condition and no longer able to make decisions regarding administration of life sustaining treatment. (This document does not constitute a Do Not Resuscitate order, which can be written only by the attending physician).
What types of treatment are affected by an Advance Directive?
Your Advance Directive affects only those types of treatment that, in the opinion of your doctor, would only serve to postpone the moment of death by artificially altering your body’s vital functions. Some examples include:
- Artificial nutrition/hydration
- Artificial ventilation (respirator)
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Surgery or other invasive procedures
Does this mean giving up care?
An Advance Directive affects only measures that are deemed to be useless. You will not be abandoned. Physicians and nurses will continue attending to your needs and every effort will be made to keep you comfortable.
What if I change my mind?
Ad Advance Directive can be revoked at any time by telling your physician, nurse or family member that you have changed your mind. In such a case, copies of your Advance Directive should be torn up and thrown away. If you have lost or want to change your Advance Directive, Pastoral Care is available to assist you upon request. To reach a chaplain, call the Northwest Health System operator by dialing “0.”