Healthcare Decisions

To plan for healthcare decisions, individuals in hospice should be able to understand their treatment options and be able to express their values and wishes. Legal documents known as advance directives help ensure that one’s end-of-life choices will be honored.

The following list includes legal documents relevant to end-of-life decision making and care. Some of these documents will require legal counsel.

Completing an Advance Directive (Living Will and/or Medical Power of Attorney) assures that a person’s end-of-life care wishes will be honored if he/she is unable to make decisions for his/herself, relieves loved ones of difficult decision-making and assures that all healthcare providers know the kind of care that is desired.

All California residents should complete and provide copies to their Medical Power of Attorney, family, physicians and local hospital.

Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint a person to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so.

Living Will is an instrument that puts in writing your wishes concerning medical treatment in the event you are unable to make the decision. An example would be your decision to withhold life support if you are determined to be terminally ill.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a form that gives seriously-ill patients more control over their end-of-life care, including medical treatment, extraordinary measures (such as a ventilator or feeding tube) and CPR. Printed on bright pink paper, and signed by both a patient and physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, POLST can prevent unwanted or ineffective treatments, reduce patient and family suffering, and ensure that a patient's wishes are honored.

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