A medical advance directive is a document that allows you to decide now about your future medical care. It is a set of directions for the kind of medical care you want if you cannot communicate your wishes in the future. You are not required to have an advance directive. However, we want you to know you have a legal right to complete such an advance directive if you wish.
Introduction to Advance Directives
Your right to make medical care decisions includes giving “advance directives” which are written instructions concerning your wishes about your medical treatment. These instructions are used in the event you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself. You must be given information on advance directives by Medicare- and Medicaid-funded hospitals, nursing homes, HMOs, hospices, home health care and personal care programs at the time you are admitted as a patient or resident in any of those programs or facilities. You must also be given written information on facility and provider policies concerning advance directives.
Please understand that you are not required to have an advance directive in order to receive care and treatment, or for admission to a facility. You must only be informed about them. Whether or not you have an advance directive, you will receive the medical care and treatment appropriate for your condition and consistent with your consent and facility policies.
If you spend a great deal of time in more than one state, you may wish to consider having an advance directive that meets the requirements of the laws of all the states where you spend significant time. You should prepare an advance directive before you get too sick to think or communicate clearly.
In Colorado, there are three kinds of medical advance directives.
A Living Will is a signed, dated and witnessed document you prepare to tell others what type of care you want or don’t want if you become terminally ill. You can print this Living Will form, sign it and give a copy to a hospital representative and your physician.
A Medical Durable Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint someone to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself. You can print this Medical Durable Power of Attorney form, sign it and give a copy to a hospital representative and your physician.
A Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Directive allows you or your medical proxy to refuse resuscitation (CPR) if you stop breathing or your heart stops. CPR Directive forms can be obtained from your physician or licensed heatlh care facilities.
More information can be found in this brochure - Your Right to Make Health Care Decisions.
Any Living Will, Medical Durable Power of Attorney and CPR Directive may include a written statement indicating a decision regarding organ and tissue donation. Organ donation may also be accomplished by signing a separate document executed in accordance with the provisions of the “Uniform Anatomical Gift Act”. You should consult your health care provider for specifics. You should also notify your family of your decision to give an anatomical gift.
If you have prepared and signed an advance directive, it will represent your wishes if you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself. These documents do not take away your right to decide what you want, if you are able to do so at the time a decision is needed. If you have an advance directive from another state, it may still be valid in Colorado. However, it is recommended you prepare a new advance directive under Colorado law.
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