COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

Your health and safety are our top priorities. Learn more about our COVID-19 evaluation and testing and our commitment to providing great care while maintaining the safest environment possible.

Health Library

Advance care directives
Site Map

Advance care directives

Living will; Power of attorney; DNR - advance directive; Do not resuscitate - advance directive; Do-not-resuscitate - advance directive; Durable power of attorney - advance care directive; POA - advance care directive; Health care agent - advance care directive; Health care proxy - advance care directive; End-of-life-advance care directive; Life-support - advance care directive

When you are very ill or injured, you may not be able to make health care choices for yourself. If you are unable to speak for yourself, your health care providers may be unclear as to what type of care you would prefer. Your family members may be uncertain or disagree about the type of medical care you should receive. An advance care directive is a legal document that tells your providers what care you agree to in advance of this type of situation.

Images

Medical power of attorney

I Would Like to Learn About:

Why Write an Advance Directive?

With an advance care directive, you can tell your providers what medical treatment you do not want to have and what treatment you want no matter how ill you are.

Writing an advance care directive may be hard. You need to:

Living Wills

A living will explains the care you do or do not want. In it, you can state your wishes about receiving:

Each state has laws about living wills. You can find out about the laws in your state from your providers, the state law organization, and most hospitals.

You should also know that:

Other Types of Advance Directives

Other types of advance directives include:

Additional Information

Write your living will or health care power of attorney according to your state's laws.

You can change your decisions at any time. Be sure to tell everyone involved, family members, proxies, and providers, if you make changes to your advance directive or a living will is changed. Copy, save, and share the new documents with them.

References

Lee BC. End-of-life issues. In: Ballweg R, Brown D, Vetrosky DT, Ritsema TS, eds. Physician Assistant: A Guide to Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 20.

Lukin W, White B, Douglas C. End-of-life decision making and palliative care. In: Cameron P, Little M, Mitra B, Deasy C, eds. Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 21.

Rakel RE, Trinh TH. Care of the dying patient. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 5.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 1/12/2020  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2020 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.