Advance Medical Directives
What are they?
Advanced Directives are legal documents that allow you to tell your physician or give someone else the authority to tell your physician what kind of care you would like to receive if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
Why are they important?
You have the right to accept or refuse medical care and to participate in the decisions regarding your care. These documents provide you with a reliable way to make your wishes known. These documents will be of great assistance to your doctors and to your loved ones should an event happen that prevents you from being able to communicate and make medical treatment decisions yourself.
Please note that whether you have an Advance Directive or not, this does not determine an individual’s access to care, treatment and services.
What Advance Directive Documents are available?
There are four types of advance directives that are recognized in the State of Texas:
Directive to Physician and Family or Surrogates– (commonly referred to as a Living Will) This document is used when a person has a terminal or irreversible condition, and allows them to choose the kind of extraordinary care they would want at the end of life. Directive to Physician and Family or Surrogates - Spanish
Medical Power of Attorney- This document allows a person to specify a healthcare agent or surrogate decision maker to make medical treatment decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. This is more specific to only healthcare issues than a Durable Power of Attorney, which can include healthcare, financial and other matters. Both are recognized by healthcare providers . The only difference is that a healthcare provider cannot assist or give advice in completing a Durable Power of Attorney.
Out of Hospital DNR- This document must be signed by your physician and allows a person to refuse specific life-sustaining treatments when they are outside of a hospital inpatient setting. This would include home, a skilled nursing facility or other outpatient area. This document MUST be with the person or be able to be presented to emergency personnel at the time the event occurs in order for the person not to be resuscitated or placed on life support.
Mental Health Treatment Declaration- This document allows a person to tell a hospital providing mental health services what kinds of mental health treatment they may want, if incapacitated.
What Do I Do Next?
Completing the Forms: Download the forms provided on this website by clicking on the links immediately above. Complete the forms according to your wishes and sign them in the presence of two witnesses.
All Advance Directive Forms must be witnessed or notarized when the person signs them. The witnesses must be competent adults and cannot be any of the following: the healthcare agent chosen to make a treatment decision; related by blood or marriage; entitled to any part of the person’s estate under a will; a caregiver; the attending physician or any of his staff or hospital employee.
Who Should Get A Copy?
Place the original(s) in a safe place. Make copies and give one to your primary care doctor. Bring a copy with you when you are admitted to any hospital. Give a copy to any person whom you name as your agent in the Medical Power of Attorney. "Just Do It!" (It is easy to put this off and never get around to it. Don't wait until it is too late!)