Legal and Ethical Decisions

Understanding Advance Directives and More

While in the hospital, you may have to make decisions about your care. At Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital, we want to make sure you’re well informed for when those moments occur. You may want to consider asking a lawyer to prepare a few documents in advance that will help with future health care decisions. We value your rights and want to keep you informed every step of the way.

Advance Directives

You have the right to formulate an advance directive that indicates your treatment preferences should you become incapacitated. An advance directive is a legal document that tells your doctor and your family about the types of life support that you want to be provided or withheld in case you’re no longer able to make decisions for yourself. If you would like more information about an advance directive, please consult your doctor, your nurse, the Admitting Department or one of our clinical social workers.

Some treatment preferences you may want to specify with an Advance Directive include:

  • Resuscitation
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Nutritional and hydration assistance
  • Hemodialysis
  • Treatments for end-of-life stage
  • Organ donation

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

When you’re unable to choose the medical treatment that you want because of your illness, a durable power of attorney for health care form can help you identify someone qualified to make treatment decisions for you when your doctor says that you cannot. A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to designate someone to give or “withhold consent for treatment.” Their right to give consent depends on what you say in writing and how it is signed. This document applies only to medical decisions and does not grant this person the right to make financial transactions for you.

DNR Comfort Care Directives

Do not resuscitate (DNR) comfort care directives detail for health care workers that they are not allowed to:

  • Start an intravenous line (IV)
  • Provide respiratory assistance
  • Insert a breathing tube or artificial airway
  • Initiate cardiac monitoring
  • Provide alternative means of intervention

Patients may consider the following options should surgery be needed and they are curious as to how the DNR comfort care status may affect doctor decisions during operations:

  • Discontinue advance directives during surgery
  • Continue advance directives but modify during surgery
  • Request no changes made to DNR comfort care orders

Start the Conversation

Discussing serious illness and death isn’t easy, but by talking about these issues, you can help ensure you receive the type of care you want, when you want it. Talk to your family about advance directives and take some of the burden off your family by making your wishes known.

You can get forms for advance directives and durable power of attorney for health care at the hospital. You can revise or cancel your advance directive at any time, regardless of your physical or mental condition. You’ll need to let your doctor, attorney, agent and family members know of any changes you wish to make.