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Guide to Advance Directives

When you are admitted to the hospital or skilled nursing facility, the Admitting Department personnel will give you information about your Patient Rights, and information about Advance Directives, also called a Living Will or Patient Declaration.

What are Advanced Directives?

An Advanced Directive is a document that will allow you to control your medical care. This document consists of directions that you give in advance about the treatment you want or do not want if you become terminally ill.

When should I complete an Advanced Directive?

If you decide that you want to have an Advance Directive, it should be done while you are well enough and competent enough to make the decision about your medical treatment. If you do not have an Advance Directive and you become terminally ill with no chance of recovery, then the burden will be placed on your family members to decide about life support treatment.
Having an Advance Directive is a very personal decision and one you should discuss with your family and physician. You may also want to talk to your clergy, close friends, and perhaps an attorney.

How can I complete an Advance Directive?

When you are admitted to the hospital or our skilled nursing facility, the Admitting Department personnel will ask you if you have signed an Advance Directive. If you have one, we will request a copy for our records. If you do not have one but decide that you want to have one, a form can be provided to you by the Admitting personnel. The form will require signatures of two witnesses (who cannot be your family members or your physician). The original or a copy will be place in your official medical record file. Please retain a copy for yourself, and also give copies to your family, your physician, and your attorney (if you have one). It would be helpful for you to make a list of who has copies of your Advance Directive. If at some time you are treated in another hospital or health care facility, you will want to provide them a copy.

After an Advance Directive is made on my behalf, can I make any changes?

Yes. As stated earlier, an Advance Directive is instructions you give in advance about your treatment choices. As long as you are mentally competent to make changes, you have the right to do so. However, if you do make changes, be sure to give copies of the current version to everyone who received copies of your original Advance Directive.

Who can I talk to if I have additional questions about Advance Directives?

Completing an Advance Directive is a very personal decision. Additional questions should be directly toward your physician, close family members, clergy, close friends, and perhaps your attorney. At Coastal Communities Hospital, the Admitting Department staff or the Patient Advocate can answer general questions about the document.

If I am the parent or guardian of a child under the age of 18, can I sign an Advance Directive on his or her behalf?

Yes. California law states that a parent or legal guardian can complete and Advance Directive on behalf of a minor child.


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