Here’s some important information for you to know when you are considering drafting an advanced healthcare directive.
As a patient, you have the right to be informed about your medical condition and alternative forms of treatment, to participate in decisions concerning care, and to have health care wishes respected.
But if you become so ill that you lose the ability to make decisions about health care, your health-care provider is required to refer to your Advance Health Care Directive.
The first step in planning for health-care decisions in the event of incapacity is to learn about options and make decisions about the kind of care you would choose if you were seriously ill or injured. If you were unable to make decisions for yourself, who do you want to make decisions for you?
A health care agent must make decisions in accordance with the instructions recorded in the Advance Health Care Directive. If no decisions have been recorded, the agent is required to make decisions in accordance with the best wishes of the patient.
Your Advance Health Care Directive may also include specific health care instructions. Maine’s statute includes an optional health care directive form which offers choices about the provision or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in certain circumstances, the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration, and treatment for pain relief.
Your physician should be given a copy of the Advance Health Care Directive for your medical file, and a copy should also be provided to any health care institution at which you anticipate receiving any treatment in the future.
Finally, keep in mind that the law relating to making and recording decisions regarding health care is subject to change. It is wise to review any written instructions you have made regarding health care every five years to at least affirm that the documents still record your wishes.