What You Need to Know About Advance Directives

A daughter hugs her father.Advance directives are documents that state your choices about medical treatment. They will also allow you to name someone to make decisions about your medical treatment if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Kentucky law recognizes three types of advance directives:

  1. Living Will;
  2. Designation of Health Care Surrogate;
  3. Advance Directive for Mental Health Treatment.

    Living will

    A living will is a document that tells your doctor or other health care providers whether you want treatments or procedures which will prolong your life if you are in a terminal condition or are in a permanently unconscious state. Procedures that can prolong your life may include mechanical respirators to help you breathe, kidney dialysis to clean your body of wastes, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to restore your heartbeat, and artificial nutrition and hydration. Your living will may also include your wishes regarding organ donation.

    Health care surrogate designation

    This type of advance directive lets you name a specific person to make your medical decisions when you are unable to do so. This person acts in your best interest to authorize treatment, refuse treatment or withdraw treatment when you are temporarily or permanently unable to decide for yourself.

    To whom should I talk?

    You do not have to have an advance directive. If you choose to write an advance directive giving your instructions, you should first talk with your family and those close to you who are concerned about your care and your feelings.

    When do I write an advance directive?

    Illness or injury can happen at any time. It is easier to discuss possible situations and your wishes at a time when you are healthy. You can always change or cancel an advance directive later if you desire.

    What else do I need to know?

    Anyone 18 years of age or older can make an advance directive.

    • If you change your mind, you can destroy the document or revoke it either verbally or in writing.
    • You don’t need a lawyer to write an advance directive.
    • We do not automatically honor advance directives in outpatient areas as we don’t know of your wishes or your visit may be for unrelated care. If you want us to honor an advance directive in an outpatient area, please speak to a nurse or your doctor.
    • While you are a patient at UK HealthCare, if you would like more information on advance directives, you may contact Patient & Family Services in UK Chandler Hospital Room H149 or by calling 859-323-5501.