Advance Directives

Communicating your healthcare choices

Questions about medical care at the end of life are very important today because of the ability of medical technology to prolong life.  The best way for you to be in control of your medical treatment in such a situation is to record your preferences in advance.  Patients can request an Advance Directive packet of information from a nurse, social worker and discharge planner to receive further information.

Advance Directives are documents written in advance of serious illness which state your choices about medical treatment or name someone to make choices about medical treatment for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  Through Advance Directives such as Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for health care, you can make legally valid decisions about future medical treatments.  According to Kentucky laws, you have the right to refuse any medical or surgical treatment you do not wish to receive.  Kentucky law allows you to sign Advance Directives so that your wishes will be followed, even if you become unable to communicate them to your health care provider.

What is a living will?

A Living Will is a document in which you can instruct your physician to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures if you become terminally ill.  A state law described the kind of form which must be used in order to have a valid Living Will.  A Living Will must be signed, dated and witnessed.  A lawyer is not needed to draw up a Living Will, although you may decide consulting a lawyer if desirable.

What is durable power of attorney?

A Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare is another type of Advance Directive; a signed, dated and witnessed legal document in which you can name another person, or agent, to make legal decisions for you, should you be unable to make them for yourself.  In a healthcare Power of Attorney, you can describe treatment you want and that you do not want.  This form of Advance Directive can also relate to any specific medical condition, such as Alzheimer's disease, not just terminal illness.  Kentucky law describes a healthcare Power of Attorney for, but other forms are also acceptable.  A Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare can be written without the advice of a lawyer, although you may decide consultation with your attorney would be helpful.