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Quality and Patient Safety

Advance Directives at Tanner

It’s your choice

In 1990, Congress passed a law requiring healthcare providers to notify all adult patients of their rights to make decisions about their health care. You have the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, and we hope the information below (also available as a downloadable brochure) will be helpful to you in making such decisions.

Please note that:

  • You are not required to have an advance directive (living will), and your decision whether or not to have one will in no way affect the level of care you receive.
  • All adult patients are being asked whether or not they have advance directives and a durable power of attorney for health care. This has no connection with your reason for admission.

What are your rights regarding medical treatment?

You have the right to make decisions to either accept or refuse medical treatment. Should you become so ill that you cannot indicate your wishes, then these decisions will be made by your family, together with our healthcare providers, and in some instances the courts could become involved.

However, there are two ways you can determine in advance the type of medical treatment you want or don’t want. These are called advance directives, and they include living wills and a durable power of attorney for health care.

What is a living will?

A living will is a document that states what type of medical treatment you would want or not want should you become terminally ill and unable to indicate your wishes. It covers things like artificial breathing, pacemakers and other procedures which could prolong the dying process. It does not include comfort measures like pain medication. Living wills take effect when two doctors have determined that your condition is not curable and death is certain.

What is a durable power of attorney for health care?

A durable power of attorney for health care is a legal document through which you give another person power to act on your behalf. Using such a document, you can allow someone you trust to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to make those decisions yourself. You can either give this person the right to make all the decisions he or she feels are necessary, or he or she can be instructed to use only a list that you have developed. You should be very specific with your instructions. Also, the person you choose should be someone who knows you well and would know your preferences, like a family member or friend. It should probably not be your doctor or another healthcare worker.

Very important

Once you have decided what you want:

  • Talk this over with your family and physician, so everyone knows in advance of your feelings regarding your healthcare treatment.
  • Put everything in writing and have it witnessed. Georgia’s Department of Human Resources provides a form for advance directives at www.aging.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHS-DAS/.
  • However, if you would like to create a durable power of attorney for finance, you may wish to get legal advice.
  • Give copies of your written requests to your family, friends, healthcare providers, attorney and anyone else you think may need one. Place a copy in the glove compartment of you car and in your suitcase for traveling. If you are admitted to a healthcare facility, be sure to take a copy of your advance directives to include in your medical record.

What if I change my mind later?

Should you change your mind, you can make this known in one of the following ways:

  • Tell your physician.
  • Destroy your written document.
  • Write your change, sign and date it.

Tell someone about your decision to make a change. This person should then write down your wishes and make sure your physician and other healthcare workers are aware of the change.

Do I have to have an advance directive?

No. Advance directives are simply ways of letting your healthcare providers and loved ones know what you would want should you be unable to tell them. You will receive the same quality health care at this institution regardless of whether or not you have a living will or durable power of attorney for health care.

What is this hospital’s policy regarding the enforcement of advance directives?

Tanner Health System supports a patient’s rights to actively participate in the healthcare decisionmaking process. Through education and inquiry about the existence of an advance directive, this organization will support patients as they communicate their wishes. These decisions will enable us as healthcare providers, as well as your family and friends, to know what your wishes are and what you would want if you were to become incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate those wishes.

Where can I get additional information on advance directives?

In addition to your attorney, there are a number of resources, including the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). The NHPC Web site includes specific advance directive information for different states. Visit www.caringinfo.org or call 1.800.658.8898.

Tanner's advance directive process

Georgia and federal regulations require hospital personnel to inquire as to the presence of an advance directive. This includes a living will or durable power of attorney with a healthcare clause. Information on advance directives is provided to every patient upon admission. If you already have an advance directive such as a living will or durable power of attorney for healthcare, please provide the staff with a copy of it at the time of admission.

Please remember that Tanner case management personnel are available to answer any of your questions.

You may download the state of Georgia's official advance directive form at this link to print and fill out: Georgia Advance Directive Form.

To help you in your decision making process, please download and print this Tanner document: Tanner Advance Directive Planner.

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