Advance directives are written documents or witnessed oral statements in which you describe your health care choices or appoint someone to make decisions for you if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives can help ensure your wishes will be carried out even if you are unconscious or cannot make your preferences known.
Many people want to make sure their choices for end-of-life care are met. Some people want to refuse aggressive medical treatment if there is no reasonable chance of recovery. Others want to avoid extending or worsening their discomfort or suffering. Still others see news reports about dramatic cases and want to prevent disagreement over the preferences of different family members.
In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Patient Self-Determination Act, a federal law requiring hospitals to inform patients about advance directives.
A living will is an advance directive in which you state whether and how you want to be treated if an illness or injury leaves you unable to speak for yourself. Many people use living wills to refuse treatment they regard as burdensome or which prolongs the dying process; while others use them to choose treatment. Some living wills are quite detailed; others are general.
You should discuss your wishes with your family members and health care professionals. Your living will becomes a part of your permanent medical record.
At Sylvester, forms are available in the admitting office, or you may request them from your physician, nurse, or social worker. Florida law does not require any special advance directive forms.
For general information about advance directives, call 305-243-1000 or 800-545-2292 and ask for the Sylvester Social Work Department, or ask for an Ethics Committee representative.
If you have any concerns or complaints regarding non-compliance with advance directive requirements, call the Agency for Health Care Administration at 888-419-3456 or visit www.floridahealthfinder.gov.
Download Sylvester’s Advance Directives brochure.