Advance Directive and Living Will

Advance Directives
Conveying Your Wishes
What To Do With These Forms
Now That You Have Registered
How It Works
Informed Consent
What Is a Code  
Who Else Can Make Decisions
Planning for Your Estate
Download Forms

Advance Directives

You have the right to make your own healthcare decisions. Very often these decisions are made together with your family and the advice of your doctor. It’s usually best to include family and physicians in this process to avoid conflict when end-of-life decisions arise: family members may have personal beliefs that differ from yours and physicians may give insight to end-of-life issues not previously considered.

How can you be sure that your choices will be honored if you are incapacitated? Before you become ill, make your choices known by completing an advance directive and relieve your family of difficult decisions. The most common types of advance directives are:
1. Health Care Directive (also known as a Living Will or Directive to Physicians)

The Health Care Directive is applicable when a person is terminally ill and may need life support. You and two witnesses, who are not related to you and will not inherit anything from you, must sign this document.You may change or cancel this directive at any time.

2. Mental Health Advance Directive

The Mental Health Advance Directive is similar to the traditional Advance Directive for Health Care. This directive may cover a range of mental health topics. It names another person authorized to make decisions on behalf of the patient. It may also provide the patient’s instruction for hospitalization, alternatives, medications, therapies, etc.

3. Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

The Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment form is a ‘portable’ physician orders form that describes your wishes in the event your heart stops. It summarizes your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment and can go with you from one healthcare setting to another. It includes the following: your wishes for resuscitation, medical interventions, antibiotics and artificial feedings. View more information about Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (Do Not Resuscitate)

4. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document allowing you to name a person as your Health Care Agent, someone who is authorized to consent to care, stop treatment or refuse treatment for you if a physician determines you cannot make these decisions for yourself. The person you choose to be your Health Care Agent should be a trusted family member or friend with whom you have discussed your values and medical treatment choices. Washington state law requires that this directive be notarized and/or witnessed. You may change or cancel this directive at any time.

Back to top

Conveying Your Wishes

It is the practice of Valley Medical Center to perform CPR on every patient whose heart stops suddenly, unless there is a pre-existing advance directive. It’s very important to let your physician and loved ones know your wishes for treatment should you ever be unable to make decisions for yourself. Completing your advance directive is your first step to making your decisions known.

Back to top

What To Do With The Advance Directive Forms

In order for your advanced directive to be useful, it has to be accessible. When the time comes to find the document, it is usually unavailable, placed away long ago for safekeeping. By registering your documents with the U.S. Living Will Registry you can rest assured that hospitals and healthcare providers have access when necessary. Valley Medical Center is a member of the U.S. Living Will Registry. The registry is a free service to you, and it eliminates worries about carrying your advance directive with you, as well as problems finding it should you become ill. Store your advance directive with the U.S. Living Will Registry by completing one of the following two steps:

Step 1. If you have an existing advance directive, obtain a copy and attach it to the completed registration agreement. (The registration agreement gives the registry permission to store your advance directive.) Mail to: U.S. Living Will Registry, 523 Westfield Ave, PO Box 2789, Westfield, NJ, 07091-2789.

Step 2. If you do not have an advance directive, complete the applicable form(s), attach to the registration agreement, and mail.

If you have questions, or if you need help filling out these forms, call 425.226.4653.

Upon completion and registry of the documents, you should also :

1. Provide copies to your Health Care Agent, named in your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, your family and/or surrogate decision maker.
2. Provide copies to your physician(s) to include in your medical record.
3.Keep your POLST form on your refrigerator or in a designated place where family and medics can locate it quickly. 

Back to top

Now That You Have Registered

Once registered, you are registered for life. If you register your advance directive, you will receive an update form annually so that your information will always be current.

The registry provides this service free of charge through its member healthcare providers and community partners so that everyone can participate and cost will never prevent anyone from registering these important documents. Because only healthcare providers (hospitals, doctors, skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, home health agencies, providers of home healthcare, ambulatory surgery centers, and hospices) have access to your documents, your privacy and confidentiality are always maintained.

Back to top

How It Works

After your document is registered, you will receive notification by mail, along with labels to attach to your driver's license and insurance card stating that you are registered with the U.S. Living Will Registry. Once registered, your documents and emergency contact information will be available to healthcare providers across the country. You will have peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be available whenever and wherever they are needed. Your family will not have to make difficult decisions on your behalf.

To obtain a list of the member healthcare providers and community partners in your area, visit uslivingwillregistry.com/.

Back to top

Informed Consent

Under the principle of "informed consent," your medical care must be explained so you can understand it and can make informed decisions. Upon admission to the hospital for a procedure, you will be asked to sign an informed consent verifying that you understand and agree to the procedures and/or treatment that is planned for you.

It is important to let your physician and loved ones know your wishes for treatment should you ever be near death and unable to express them. Most health facilities assume you want all available medical treatment, including life-sustaining care, unless you direct otherwise.

Back to top

What Is a Code?

A code (resuscitation) is a set of potentially life-saving procedures performed on a person whose heart and/or lungs have suddenly stopped functioning. Current healthcare practice requires that attempts at resuscitation must be made unless otherwise specified.

Calling 911 will activate all resuscitation efforts despite previous decisions, unless you have executed a "Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)" form or bracelet. It is always a good idea to keep a copy of your wishes in a readily accessible location for emergency medical staff, such as keeping it on top of the refrigerator.

Back to top

Who Else Can Make Decisions?

Washington state law enables the following people, in order of priority, to make healthcare decisions for you, should you lose the ability to communicate and make decisions.

  • A guardian with healthcare decision-making authority, if one has been appointed.
  • The person named in the durable power of attorney with healthcare decision-making authority.
  • Your spouse.
  • Your adult children.
  • Your parents.
  • Your adult brothers and sisters.

Back to top

Planning for Your Estate

In addition to planning your future medical care, you may also want to make advanced arrangements for the distribution of your estate in the event of your death. Consider consulting an attorney or planned giving specialist at a trusted charity. They can help pursue planned giving options that reflect your priorities, values, and financial objectives. Valley Medical Center's planned giving specialist can be reached at 425.228.3440, ext. 5687.

Back to top

Forms 

Information Flyer about Advance Directives and the U.S. Living Will Registry (PDF)
Health Care Directive (PDF)
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (PDF)
U.S. Living Will Registry Registration Agreement (PDF)

Back to top