What if I am too sick to make a decision about my medical care?
All adults in hospitals, nursing homes, behavioral health facilities and other health-care facilities have patient rights. For example, you have the right to know the kind of care you will receive, and that your medical records will always be private.
The care that you receive if you cannot speak for yourself is important. A federal law gives you the right to fill out a paper form known as an “advance directive.” There are different kinds of advance directives such as a Living Will, a Medical Power of Attorney and a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. Your doctor can advise you on how to complete these forms.
What are advance directives? How do I get an advance directive?
An advance directive gives you the power to put your health-care wishes in writing ahead of time. This is important should you become very sick or if you’re not able to make decisions on your own during special or critical medical conditions. An advance directive tells your doctor, the hospital or other staff the kind of care you will or will not accept. The advanced directive can also say who can make decisions for you if you are not able to.
If you sign either of these documents, your doctor will make a note in your medical records so that other doctors know about your wishes as well.
Superior wants you to know your right to make decisions about your health care. You can fill out these forms ahead of time. These are the types of advance directives you can choose under Texas law:
- Directive to Doctor (living will) – A living will tells your doctor what to do. If you are near death, it will tell the doctor you don’t want to get care. In the state of Texas you can make a living will. Your doctor must follow your living will in case you become too sick to decide about your care.
- Durable Power of Attorney for health care – This form gives the person who signs it power. This person can make decisions about your health care if you are not able to.
- Declaration of Mental Health Treatment – This tells your doctor about the mental health care you want. In the state of Texas you can make this choice. It expires three (3) years after you sign it or at any time you pick to cancel it, unless a court has considered you incapacitated.
- Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate – This tells your doctor what to do if you are about to die. In the state of Texas your doctor must follow this request if you become too sick.
When you talk to your doctor about an advance directive, he or she might have the forms in their office to give you. You can also call Superior Member Services or access the forms on the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services website.