Health Care Directives for Complex Medical Decisions

If you have a complicated medical condition or multiple health issues in Bucks County, it is very important that you create thorough advance healthcare directives. These documents spell out possible risks and the medical decisions that you would like to have made on your behalf in the event that you cannot speak for yourself.

An Advance Healthcare Directive form usually has several sections, including:

  • Whether or not you will want life-sustaining medical care, what kind, and under what situations
  • Whether or not you want to donate your organs or tissues if you are a candidate
  • What you consider your acceptable quality of life
  • What comfort care you would like provided
  • Any other instructions you would like followed regarding moral, religious, or ethical considerations
  • Do Your Research

    Talk to your doctor and your specialists about what you can expect regarding your condition over time. Ask questions such as:

  • Will my condition continue to deteriorate or is my condition stable?
  • What is the long-term outlook of my condition?
  • What complications can I expect over time? How might other parts of my body be affected?
  • What medications or treatments might I need?
  • What are the pros and cons of those treatments and how much do they help?
  • What other specialists might be needed?
  • What is my risk of stroke, heart attack, or other major health events?
  • You may also want to clarify with your doctor some of the terms on the advance directive form, such as what constitutes life-sustaining medical care, whether you are a candidate for organ or tissue donation, and what comfort care might be appropriate.

    For instance, “life-sustaining” can be interpreted very broadly. Food and water are life-sustaining, and oxygen is life-sustaining, but most people don’t intend that they be deprived of food, water, or oxygen. Therefore, talk to your doctor about the types of life-sustaining treatments, when they are useful, and which ones may be futile if death is otherwise imminent.

    Whether you are a stroke survivor or someone with cardiac issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a degenerative condition such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, or severe arthritis, it is important to thoroughly research what treatments you may need in the future, communicate your wishes to your medical power of attorney, and ensure that the person you’ve chosen and any secondary or tertiary medical agents will respect your wishes. Put it in writing, sign it, and make sure your loved ones and your physicians have a copy of your wishes in order to assure that they will be carried out.

    BCHIP Can Help

    Visit our Advance Care Planning page for more information or download our Advance Healthcare Directive Form.


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