Advance Directives are forms you can fill out before you get sick or go to the hospital to let your doctors and loved ones know about your healthcare wishes if you ever become too ill to make decisions or speak for yourself.
Federal law requires hospitals to give you information about Advance Directives. In Connecticut, there are two types of Advance Directives forms:
- Living Wills or Healthcare Instructions
- Appointment of Healthcare Representative
Living Will or Healthcare Instructions
A Living Will is a form that tells your doctors about your wishes for your medical care, especially if you are in the final stages of a terminal illness or are permanently unconscious. For example, would you want to be given artificial food and fluids, have a machine breathe for you (mechanical ventilation), or have your heart and lungs restarted if they stopped (cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR).
Appointment of Healthcare Representative
A Healthcare Representative is a person you've chosen to make medical decisions for you if you can't make them yourself. You can choose an adult relative or friend you trust, but your doctor is not allowed to be your Healthcare Representative. Your Healthcare Representative can make decisions about any part of your medical treatment, even about stopping life support machines. This person would follow the instructions in your Living Will, if you have one.
A combination form lets you make a Living Will and appoint a Healthcare Representative in a single form. It also lets you to decide if want to donate organs.
Where Can I Get Advance Directives Forms?
- When you are admitted to the hospital, you can ask an admitting staff person for the Advance Directives forms.
- If you're already in the hospital, you can get Advance Directives forms from your doctor, nurse or a social worker.
- You also can get them by calling YNHH's Spiritual Care department at the York Street Campus 203-688-2151, or the Saint Raphael Campus 203-789-3245.
- Outside the hospital, your primary care physician or your lawyer can help you get Advance Directives forms and help you fill them out. A lawyer is not required, however.
- You can get them from the website of the Office of the Connecticut Attorney General, along with a packet called "Your Rights to Make Healthcare Decisions, A Summary of Connecticut Law."