How Do I Do This?

Start with your doctor. Discuss the types of medical problems you may face based on your health and history. Your doctor can help you understand the treatment choices.

Think about your goals for medical treatment. It is impossible to plan for every medical event, but you can make your preferences for medical treatment clear.

Identify the quality of life you find acceptable.

Pick someone you trust to be your surrogate decision-maker. This should be someone who would be able to make tough decisions; who would speak up in a crisis situation; who understands your desires; and would speak for you when you are unable to speak for yourself.

If you choose more than one decision-maker, designate who will be first and who will be second.

You should have at least one alternate person, in case the first person is unavailable.

You can indicate if there is someone who you do NOT want to make your decisions for you.

If there are medical treatments you do not want under any circumstances, make that very clear in your Advance Health Care Directive. You have the right to refuse any medical treatment or surgery.

If you do not agree with the language in a pre-made form, change the language. Only sign a form after you are certain that it truly reflects your specific wishes.

You can write your wishes in your own words, but you have to be certain they can be clearly understood by others. You may want to go over this with your doctor, to be certain medical care providers can understand your wishes. As long as your wishes comply with the law, they will be followed.

Discuss your wishes with your surrogate decision-maker, your family and your doctor.

Sign the document in the presence of someone who is not your decision-maker; related to you by blood, marriage or adoption; will benefit from your estate; or is your healthcare provider. An unrelated friend, neighbor, or minister make ideal witnesses.

Be certain your wishes and instructions are clearly understood by all.

If you have a local hospital, give a copy of your Advance Health Care Directive for their files.

Give a copy to your physician and surrogate decision maker.

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