What Are Advance Directives?
A living will, health care proxy and durable power of attorney—are the legal documents that allow you to give direction to medical personnel, family, and friends concerning your future care when you cannot speak for yourself. You do not need a lawyer to complete Advance Directives.
For more information about Advance Directives or to obtain forms, please speak with your nurse.
Patient Services Advance Directives
Advance Directives are a set of decisions and associated documents that an individual makes to guide his/her care during an illness when he/she is unable to make decisions. Advance directives allow an individual a) to determine who should make decisions on his/her behalf and b) to make his/her wishes known about goals of care as well as specific types of treatment.
A Living Will is a supportive document that allows a patient to express his/her preferences for types of care and goals of care. For example, a patient may express his/her wish not to have artificial feeding in the event of a non-reversible illness. It is important to recognize that a Living Will is not a legal advance directive in the State of New York and does not replace a Health Care Proxy.
Health Care Proxy
In New York, the legally recognized advance directive is called a Health Care Proxy. The Proxy is the document that identifies an authorized person (called the Health Care Agent) to make health care decisions on a patient’s behalf when the patient is incapable of making his/her own decisions.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Health Care Proxy is sometimes referred to as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. It is important for the patient to discuss his/her wishes with their Health Care Agent so that the Agent is able to make decisions that reflect the patient’s wishes. Please note that a General Durable Power of Attorney (which governs financial/property matters) does not provide authority to make health care decisions.
The Ethics Committee is an advisory group of health care professionals that provides assistance in difficult or confusing situations where questions or conflicts arise about the goals of patient care. Anyone may request an Ethics Consultation by contacting the hospital operator and asking to speak with the Ethics Committee representative.