In the event you should be unable to make decisions regarding your health care in the future, you may want to complete an advance directive prior to your procedure. An advance directive is a written document that provides instructions to your medical team regarding your personal health care wishes in the event you develop an irreversible or end-of-life condition. An advance directive includes specific directions regarding life-prolonging treatments and the conditions under which you would or would not want such treatments to be provided.
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You have the right to accept or refuse ordinary procedures such as surgery, chemotherapy, blood transfusions and medications. You also have the right to make end-of-life choices such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), electric shock to the heart (defibrillation), the use of an artificial breathing or kidney machine, and nutrition from an intravenous or feeding tube. Comfort measures such as pain medicine and nursing care are always provided regardless of other treatments. An advance directive is only enforced at a time when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes, and end-of-life decisions have to be made.
Atlantic Health System will not discriminate against anyone based on whether or not that person has executed an advance directive, and will continue to provide appropriate care based on the treatment plan decided upon by you, your family and your physician to best meet your needs.
There are three types of advance directives:
- Proxy Directive (also called a durable power of attorney for health care): names a health care representative, such as a family member or friend, to make health care decisions on your behalf.
- Instruction Directive (also called a Living Will): states what kinds of medical treatments you would accept or reject in certain situations.
- Combined Directive: lets you name a health care representative (proxy), and also informs that person and the medical team of your treatment wishes.
The State of New Jersey mandates that all adult patients admitted to the hospital be asked if they have an advance directive. If you have already prepared such a document, please be sure to bring a copy to the hospital upon your admission, or have someone bring in a copy to be placed in your medical record. Your advance directive must be signed and dated by you in the presence of two witnesses. A Notary Public is not necessary. You have the right to revoke or revise your directive at any time by notifying, orally or in writing, your health care representative, physician, nurse or other health care professional, or other reliable witness.
Discuss your advance directive with a relative or close friend. Keep the original in a place known to your family, and provide a copy to your proxy. You may also choose to give a copy to your physician and clergy. More information about advance directives may be obtained by calling the hospital’s patient representative or social work services.