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Health Care Proxy and Living Will

Sometimes, because of illness or injury, patients may be unable to talk to their doctor and make decisions about their treatment. You may want to plan in advance so that your wishes about treatment will be followed if you become unable—for a short or long period—to decide for yourself. In New York State, individuals have the right to appoint someone they trust to decide about treatment for them if they become unable to do so. This appointed person is called a Health Care Agent.

The best way to protect your treatment wishes and concerns is to appoint a Health Care Agent and complete the Health Care Proxy form. This form is included in Your Rights as a Hospital Patient booklet. If you do not plan ahead, family members or other people close to you may not be allowed to make these decisions for you. If you do not have someone to appoint as your Health Care Agent, or you do not want to appoint someone, you can also give written instructions about your specific treatment desires in advance. These written instructions are called a living will. The Patient Advance Directive Policy provides, among other things, that the Hospital will follow any advance directive, such as a Health Care Proxy or living will, which complies with New York State law, provided that you give a signed copy of any such advance directive to the Hospital. If you have any problems, questions, or concerns regarding your stay, please notify Patient Services at (212) 305-5904.

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