Determine Your Healthcare Future
Have you considered your personal wishes regarding extraordinary healthcare measures, such as life support? Have you put them in writing?
At Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, we encourage you to think about and document your choices. Legal documents called Advance Directives are the best way to express your wishes regarding extraordinary health care measures.
Advance Directives are documents that state a person’s choices regarding treatment, such as being placed on life support, refusing treatment, and stopping treatment.
Two common Advance Directives – both recognized in Kansas – are the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care.
If You Establish Advance Directives…
- You do not need a lawyer; however, legal advice is appropriate.
- You will need two witnesses present when you complete the paperwork.
- Advise your immediate family members that you’ve created Advance Directives and disclose where they are located.
- Share a copy with your primary care physician to include as part of your medical records, then provide a new copy if your directives change.
- Bring a copy with you if/when you’re admitted to the hospital.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a signed, dated and witnessed document that allows you to state in advance your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining procedures.
The living will is authorized in a Kansas statute titled, “The Natural Death Act.” This statute allows you (and any adult, 18+ years old), to sign a form stating that, if your decision-making capacity is lost, life-sustaining procedures should be withheld or withdrawn, when such procedures would merely prolong death. Under the act, medical procedures deemed necessary to provide comfort or alleviate pain are not considered “life-sustaining procedures.”
What is Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare?
Also known as a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, this document grants another person (known as an “agent”) the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, if you are incapacitated.
Your agent can be any adult, except a physician or other health care worker (unless you’re related by blood or marriage to the health care provider). Appoint someone who knows your wishes and is willing to carry them out, especially regarding your personal, religious, moral, and cultural beliefs.
Advance Directives FAQs
There may be times whether because of an accident, injury or illness, you may not be able to make sound decisions about your health care. However, decisions still need to be made regarding your treatment and care; directives outline who can legally speak on your behalf and see that your wishes are carried out.
Any person who is 18-years of age and older, as well an emancipated minor, can have Advance Directives.
You will need two witnesses present when you sign your directives. Only one can be a spouse, family member or relative; your health care surrogate cannot be a witness. These documents do not need to be notarized to be legal, though some prefer to have them notarized along with any other legal documents, such as a will.
The Designation of Health Care Surrogate takes effect as soon as your physician deems that you are unable to make your own health care decisions. A Living Will be will be enacted only when your attending physician along with a consulting physician determine you are:
- Unable to make your own medical decisions and are unlikely to regain this ability.
- AND In a terminal persistent vegetative state, an end-stage condition, or in any other condition that you specified in your Living Will. A more complete definition of applicable conditions can be found in the instructions section of the Advance Directives form available for download.
These documents are valid indefinitely, unless you have specified an expiration date on the document. They become void at the time of your death or when you have rescinded them or declared them void.
According to Kansas law, the following individuals would make these decisions. They are, in the order of priority:
- Spouse (Kansas law does not recognize common law marriages as a legal marriage contract).
- Adult children who are reasonably available for consultation (in person or by phone).
- Sibling(s) who are reasonably available for consultation (in person or by phone). Being the oldest child does not give that child any higher priority.
- Relative who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient and who has maintained regular contact with the patient and who is familiar with the patient’s activities, health and religious or moral beliefs.
- Close Personal Friend – to qualify, the friend shall be 18 years of age or older, have exhibited special care and concern for the patient; has signed a Close Personal Friend affidavit stating he or she is a friend of the patient; and is willing and able to become involved in the patient’s healthcare and has maintained regular contact with the patient so as to be familiar with the patient’s activities, health and religious or moral beliefs.
Prior to your medical procedure you should appoint a designated health care surrogate. If you already have one designated, changes in marital status or within your family may require changes to your surrogate appointment as well:
- Newly Married
- Divorced, or contemplating divorce
- Living with a significant other
- Wanting to designate one person from the proxy category where there are several people.
Yes, if you are an adult or emancipated minor inpatient. When you are admitted to a nursing unit you will be asked to complete a personal health history form or your nurse will assist you. At this time you will be asked about an Advance Directives form that has a summary of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System’s policy.
If you have completed Advance Directives, please bring a copy with you to the hospital and give it to your nurse. If you would like to complete one, please let your nurse know. If you have questions after reading the instructions on the back of the Advance Directives form, you may request to speak to a chaplain, case manager or your physician.
No, but if you do not wish to be resuscitated in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest, you must discuss this with the attending physician so that a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order can be entered into your medical records. This form must be completed by you and your physician in order to be valid and take effect.
If you are interested in making advance directives or have questions, please call Guest Relations at 620-665-2470.
Just as you have a right to make advance directives, you also have the right not to make advance directives. No patient at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center shall be discriminated against or have care conditioned on whether he or she has executed advance directives.