Advanced Medical Directives

There are four main elements in an Advanced Medical Directive; a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Directive to Physicians, Healthcare Privacy Act Authorization to Release Medical Information “HIPAA”, and Organ and Tissue Donation Options.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document naming health care advocates, someone to make medical decisions for you at times when you are unable to do so. Your advocate, also known as a representative agent, should be familiar with your values and wishes. This means that he or she will be able to decide as you would when treatment decisions need to be made. Having a health care advocate helps you plan for situations that cannot be foreseen, like a serious auto accident or illness.

Directive to Physicians. A directive to Physicians provides guidance about your medical care preferences in the form of a doctor’s orders. When you are near the end of life or critically ill and two (2) licensed physicians have determined you have no possibility of recovery, planning the specific decisions that might need to be made on your behalf now will allow you to stay in control of your medical decisions when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes. The Directive to Physicians serves as a medical order to make it possible for you to provide guidance to health care professionals and remove your loved ones from the stress and burden of deciding when to remove life support.

HIPAA Medical Release. Your medical records and medical information is protected under the Healthcare Privacy Act of 1996 which does not allow a doctor or hospital to release or discuss your medical condition with anyone including your spouse without a written release authorizing them to provide your medical information and condition to your health care agent. Without this authorization your information cannot be released or transferred to another doctor or hospital which may be needed in the event of an accident or illness to obtain a second opinion or move you to another hospital.

Organ and Tissue Donation. Organ and Tissue Donation allow organs or body parts from a generally healthy person who has died to be transplanted into people who need them. Commonly, the heart, lungs, pancreas, kidneys, corneas, liver and skin are donated. There is no age limit for organ and tissue donation. We suggest that you include organ donation in your advance care planning documents if you wish to be an organ donor.