Today, remarkable advances in medical science are giving people new opportunities for full and productive lives. But progress brings new issues. Through medical science, we can now maintain life long after personality and consciousness are gone. At Hutchinson Regional Medical Center we encourage you to think about these issues.
Legal documents called advance directives are the best way to express your wishes regarding extraordinary health care measures. If you choose to make advance directives, we can provide the necessary forms. You do not need a lawyer in order to make an advance directive. However, legal advice is certainly appropriate.
What are advance directives?
Advance directives are documents that state a patient’s choices regarding treatment. They include decisions about refusing treatment, being placed on life support and stopping treatment at a point the patient chooses. Also included are requests for life-sustaining treatment.
There are several kinds of advance directives. Two that are mentioned most often are the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care. Kansas statutes recognize both a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care.
What is a living will?
A living will is a signed, dated and witnessed document that allows you to state in advance your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining procedures.
The living will is authorized in a Kansas statute titled, “The Natural Death Act.” This statute allows any adult, at least 18 years old, to sign a form (relating to him/herself only) which states that life-sustaining procedures should be withheld or withdrawn when decision-making capacity is lost and when such procedures would merely prolong death. Medical procedures deemed necessary to provide comfort or alleviate pain are not considered “life-sustaining procedures” under the act.
What is a durable power of attorney for healthcare?
This is a document in which a person gives someone else the right to make decisions about health care for him/ her. The person who would make the decisions is known as an “agent” and can be any adult except a physician or other health care provider (including people who work, own or are directors for hospitals and other health care institutions) unless the health care provider is related by blood or marriage to the person signing the document.
Who should I contact?
If you are interested in making advance directives or have questions, please call Guest Relations at 620.513.3866.
Just as you have a right to make advance directives, you also have the right not to make advance directives. No patient at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center shall be discriminated against or have care conditioned on whether he or she has executed advance directives.