An advance directive lets you make your wishes known about medical treatment before you need such care. There are three kinds of Advance Directives:
Medical Power of Attorney
By completing this form, you can appoint someone you know and trust to be your agent, who can make health care decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself.
Living Will (Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates)
A Living Will instructs your doctor not to use life support to extend the natural process of dying. This directive will take effect only when you are in the terminal phase of an illness. Parents may complete a Living Will for their child under 18 years of age.
Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)
This directive requires a doctor's signature. Only patients in the terminal phase of an illness can have an Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order. This form allows the patient to refuse life-sustaining treatments when outside the hospital.
You pay no fee for filling out these forms, nor do you need a lawyer or notary public. However, if you would like some help with completing a directive, call the Department of Social Work at (713) 792-6195.
Filling out these forms is a matter of choice. You do not have to complete them to get care at MD Anderson. Although most states in the U.S. honor the Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney, only Texas accepts the Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order.
Policies about advance directives at MD Anderson assure that your health care decisions will be honored. If you would like more information, contact the Department of Social Work at (713) 792-6195, or the Clinical Ethics Department at (713) 792-8775.