Making Difficult Decisions
You have the right and responsibility...
...to take an active part in decisions about your medical care, including decisions to accept or refuse medical treatment. You also have the right to prepare what is known as an advance directive.
An advance directive is a document in which you make some decisions about your care. It tells doctors and loved ones what medical treatments you want to receive if you're unconscious or too ill to make your wishes known.
A durable power of attorney for health care and a living will are types of advance directives. The type of advance directive you can prepare depends upon the law of the state in which you live or are hospitalized.
Some of the most commonly asked questions about advance directives are as follows:
Q. What kind of advance directive does North Carolina law permit a person to make?
A. Any adult of sound mind may prepare a durable power of attorney for health care. Although there is nothing to prohibit a person from making a living will, neither the North Carolina courts nor the legislature have approved their use. As such, it is not known whether a court would require a health care provider to follow a living will.
Q. What is a durable power of attorney for health care?
A. A durable power of attorney for health care is a document in which you designate another person, such as a family member or close friend, as your representative or patient advocate. This person is empowered by you to make decisions about your care, custody and medical treatment, if you become unable to do so.
Q. What kinds of decisions does my patient advocate make on my behalf?
A. Your patient advocate makes decisions about your care when you're not able. Your patient advocate can only make decisions to authorize withdrawal or refusal of medical treatment if you acknowledge that these kinds of decisions will result in your death. You must specifically authorize the patient advocate to make those kinds of decisions.
Q. Do I have to make a durable power of attorney for health care?
A. No. Preparing a durable power of attorney for health care is a personal decision, which is completely up to you.
Q. What should I do with my durable power of attorney if I choose to have one?
A. Make sure that someone, such as a family member, a close friend or your lawyer, is aware that you have a durable power of attorney and knows where the document is located. You should also let your doctor know. Some doctors may make it a part of your medical record.
Q. Who gets a copy of my durable power of attorney for health care?
A. Your patient advocate should receive a copy as well as anyone who may be affected by your decision to appoint a patient advocate. And if necessary, the nursing home should get a copy.
Q. What are Johnston Health's policies regarding the implementation of a durable power of attorney?
A. It is our policy to respect the medical treatment decisions made by you or your representative (such as a duly authorized patient advocate), provided that the decisions adhere to sound medical practice and current ethical standards.
Q. How can I prepare a durable power of attorney?
A. If you would like to prepare a durable power of attorney by yourself, we can provide an instruction booklet with sample forms.