Advanced directives

Part of your healthcare is to be sure that you are cared for in the manner that you want when you're not able to actively give your consent.  Advanced directives are legal documents that all adults should have on hand for emergency and end-of-life situations.  But equally as important is to communicate with your family and friends about these topics so they know what you want as well.

There are several legal documents that you can sign to indicate your wishes for your care in situations when you won't be able to communicate them yourself.  The documents cover different aspects of your rights.  Three of these documents are explained below.

Living will

A living will applies when a patient has a terminal condition from which they will not recover.  It allows you to specify that you don't want to have your life prolonged artificially and you wish to die naturally.  Two doctors must certify that the patient is terminally ill before a living will takes affect.  Medications and comfort care will continue to be provided to the patient.

Power of attorney for healthcare

This document allows you to designate another person to make healthcare decisions for you in a situation where you aren't able to make those decisions yourself.  It doesn't have to be a family member.  Be sure to share a copy of the document with the person you chose so they are aware of your choice.  Then talk to them about what care you would or woudn't want to receive in different situations.

Do not resuscitate (DNR)

This document is used when you are being admitted to the hospital.  It states that if your heart stops or you stop breathing, you don't want any medical procedures to restart your heart or breathing.  This would prevent the hospital staff from performing CPR on you.

The forms below are from Kansas Legal Services website.   They are non-profit law firm and community education organization helping low and moderate income people in Kansas.