Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. – Potter Stewart
If you become unable to make decisions about your care, you can empower medical staff and family members to make decisions for you. Make your healthcare decisions known beforehand by completing advance care planning documents (also known as advance directives).
Advance care planning documents
Examples of advance care directives include:
- Living will - Informs your doctor of your wishes regarding lifesaving treatments or interventions.
- Medical durable power of attorney - Names someone to make healthcare decisions if or when you or a loved one is medically determined to no longer be able to make healthcare decisions. The person named to handle these decisions is called a healthcare agent.
- Organ donor document - Often referred to as an organ donor card (including organ donor designation on a driver’s license), this indicates your desire to be an organ donor and which organs you are willing to donate.
- Patient CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) directive - Allows you or a loved one to refuse resuscitation.
Your right to make your healthcare decisions known
We encourage you to complete advance care planning documents and clearly communicate with your family, your healthcare agent and your physician in advance to ensure they understand your wishes if they are called to make decisions about your care.
We abide by the Catholic healthcare tradition
Our hospitals follow the 1991 federal Patient Self-Determination Act and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs). This means patients may choose to forgo treatments that "in the patient's judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community." However, healthcare in the Catholic tradition cannot honor advance care planning documents or advance directives that reflect the intended purpose of intentionally hastening death or ending life.
Review your state’s guidelines and documents
Each state has its own guidelines regarding advance care planning. It’s important to understand these guidelines to ensure your wishes are honored. Download the letter for your state and follow the instructions it contains:
Note: These documents are available as printable (PDF) files using Adobe Acrobat. If you do not already have an Adobe Acrobat Reader, download a free copy now.
If you are unable to access the online versions of these letters, you can request a copy from our admissions and registration team.