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Home > Patients & Visitors > Patient Resources > Advanced Directives
An advance directive tells your doctor what kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions. Complete the Advanced Directive form to be prepared for such an event. Accidents or serious illnesses can happen suddenly and the best way to ensure your wishes are more likely followed is to be prepared.
If the form has been completed at Mercy, a copy will be kept on file at Mercy. You should keep the original form. You can also give a copy to your primary care provider and one to your Medical Power of Attorney.
If you would like more information or have questions, please contact our Mercy Pastoral Care office at (319) 398-6106.
Advance directives are documents signed by a competent person giving direction to healthcare providers about treatment choices in certain circumstances. There are two types of advance directives. A durable power of attorney for healthcare ("durable power") allows you to name a "patient advocate" to act for you and carry out your wishes. A living will allows you to state your wishes in writing, but does not name a patient advocate.
An advance directive allows you to clearly state your feelings and control your healthcare even when you are unable to voice your opinions.
It is a legal document that allows you to name someone at least 18 years old to be your advocate and make health care decisions for you. You can pick a family member, friend or any person you trust, but this person must be willing to serve. A durable power can be used to accept or refuse any treatment. If you want your patient advocate to be able to refuse any treatment and let you die, you must say so specifically in the durable power document. It becomes active any time you are unconscious or unable to make medical decisions.
No. You have this option, but no one can require you to have a durable power. You can make your wishes known by talking with your family or doctor or by writing them down, but unless you have a durable power, a patient advocate does not have legal authority to act for you.
No. You do not have to have a durable power or living will. As long as your are competent, you will be able to make your own health decisions. If you are no longer competent, but your family and caregivers know what you would want, it will be easier to follow your wishes. If you have not made your wishes known to family and caregivers, a court may have to name a guardian to make decisions for you.
Yes. You may change or cancel your advance directive at any time, as long as you are considered of sound mind to do so. Make sure the appropriate people know of the changes. Ideally, your changes should be in writing, but you may verbalize your changes known while you are in the hospital.