Questions Concerning Advance Directives
Who needs to be concerned about Advance Directives?
All adult patients (18 years and older) should understand
advance directives. Federal law requires certain facilities,
including hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies
provide written information about an individual's rights under
State law to make decisions concerning medical care, including
the right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment and
the right to formulate advance directives. Further, those
facilities must document in a prominent part of the individual's
current medical record whether or not the individual has
executed an advance directive. Every adult person who becomes a
patient in Lee Memorial Health System facilities should be asked
whether they have written an advance directive. Advance
directives are not required to receive care in Lee Memorial
Health System, but are provided to you to be able to document
your wishes concerning treatment.
Why does Lee Memorial provide this information?
The United States Congress passed a law in 1990 called the
"Patient Self-Determination Act". This law requires that all
health care organizations provide written information to
patients regarding their rights to make decisions about their
own medical care. This includes the right to accept or refuse
medical or surgical treatment.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a set of instructions you have
prepared regarding your medical care. They may describe what
treatment you do or do not want and serve to convey your wishes
to the medical team in the event you are not able to give
Who can be a witness to a Living Will?
Generally, any adult can be, but a spouse or blood relative
can be only ONE of the witnesses; the second witness should be
someone who is not related to you. The person you have named as
your surrogate should not be one of the witnesses.
What is a Living Will?
A living will contains specific instructions about what you
want done regarding withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging
procedures in the event you have a terminal condition, an
end-stage condition, or are in a persistent vegetative state.
What is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate (DHCS)?
A DHCS is a document you sign appointing a person
(surrogate) you trust to make health care decisions for you if
you are temporarily or permanently unable to make health care
decisions for yourself. It is important you talk with your
surrogate and let the surrogate know your wishes about your
medical care and treatment, so that your surrogate will make the
decisions based upon your desires.
When does my Living Will or other Advance directive actually go
Your physician, after evaluating your condition, will call
in another physician for a second opinion. If both determine
that you have a terminal condition, and end-stage condition, or
a persistent vegetative state, your living will goes into
effect. If you have designated a surrogate and it is determined
by your physician that you do not have the "capacity", or
ability, to make your own decisions, then your surrogate would
be asked to provide consent for you.
What if I have not made an Advance Directive or cannot sign my
name on a Living Will?
You can give verbal instructions to your physician and
family. However, it is more helpful for you to put your wishes
What if I change my mind and want to delete all or part of my
Your advance directive can be revoked at any time by doing
any of the following things:
signing a written statement saying that you revoke it;
physically tearing up the directive or have someone else tear it up in
orally expressing that you revoke it;
executing another advance directive that is different than the
important thing to remember is to tell your doctor, family or
friends what you want.
Can my life insurance company cancel my life insurance for
saying I want life support withheld or withdrawn?
No. Florida law states that no policy of life insurance will
be invalidated by you making these choices. also, you cannot be
required to make an advance directive as a condition for getting
insurance or being admitted to a hospital.
I signed a Living Will in another state. Is it valid here?
Normally, yes! Florida will recognize an advance directive
executed in another state provided that it meets that state's or
Florida's state requirements.
Where should I keep my Advance Directive?
Your advance directive is your "voice" and should serve to
give your instructions if you cannot. It is important that it be
in an accessible place and that your surrogate, family and
physician all have a copy of it. You should also bring a copy
with you each time you are admitted to the hospital, or ask
someone to bring it for you.
Where can I get an Advance Directive?
You can get a form that you are free to use by
here. For a Creole,
click here. For a version in Spanish,
click here. There are other
versions of living wills available. This one is the example
provided in Florida Statutes. You may use another version of a
living will, but it may be advisable to make sure that it meets
Florida Law requirements.
Do I need a lawyer to make a Living Will or designate a health
No. You can execute a living will or health care surrogate
designation without a lawyer. However, if you need to prepare
documents related to financial decision-making, such as a
Durable Power of Attorney, you would be wise to ask for the
assistance of an attorney. The information on this web page is
related to health care decision-making.
We, at Lee
Memorial Health System, hope that this web page has helped
answer questions about living wills and advance directives.
However, if you have further questions and would like more
assistance, please feel free to call us at:
239-343-2940 - Medical Social Work, Department of Care Management
239-343-5199 - Spiritual Services
239-424-3765 - Older Adult Services
239-432-3450 - HealthPark Care and Rehabilitation Center Social Services
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