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Advance Directives

Advance Directives

Learn about advance directives here.

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Advance Directives are documents designed to assist individuals in expressing their wishes for healthcare in the event of a life- threatening injury or illness. Advance directives allow a person to decline life sustaining treatment, such as, declining CPR or being placed on machines to breath for you. Depending on the advance directive chosen, an individual can make someone a decision maker for them when they are unable to make decisions for themselves.


Why is it important to have an advance directive? Having an advance directive allows a person to be in control of their own healthcare. A healthcare crisis can occur at anytime and without written wishes, healthcare professionals are by law, mandated to administer all life sustaining treatment. Those treatments may be different than those wished by an individual. Having healthcare wishes in writing also help families who may have to make very difficult decisions on their loved one’s behalf.


What types of advance directives are there? There are four types of advance directives:

1. Power of Attorney for Healthcare (POA)- Is a form that allows a person to name someone to act on their behalf when they are mentally unable to make their own decisions. That person is to make decisions based on the healthcare choices made in the form. So, it is important to discuss your healthcare wishes with the person chosen as your decision maker. Life sustaining treatment decisions are made on this form.

2. Living Will – Is a simple document stating that if a person’s medical condition is life threatening or is felt by their medical professional that full recovery is not possible, the individual does not wish to have their life prolonged.

3. Practitioner’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)-is a form designed to provide more specific wishes to an individual’s medical professional regarding life sustaining treatment. Once signed by a medical practitioner, it becomes a medical order to be followed by all medical professionals regardless of where treatment is provided. Most states have adopted versions of this form.

4. Healthcare Surrogate-Is a form allowing a person to be named as a decision maker on behalf of individuals who have not completed any other form of advance directive. There are specific guidelines which have to be followed regarding the naming of that decision maker.


Other information-Advance directives can be revoked or changed at any time. It is important to understand that advance directives go into effect only after a physician/practitioner has determined a person unable to make their own decisions. If the individual recovers the ability to make his/her decisions, then they regain authority regarding their healthcare choices. Also important to know, an individual witnessing an advance directive cannot be a relative, physician/practitioner or anyone owning a medical practice.


Where can advance directive forms be found-Documents can be found online, lawyers offices and hospitals. Pana Community Hospital’s Case Management Department has advance directive forms and are available to answer any questions, provide the forms and assist with the completion of an advance directive. There is no charge for assisting with advance directives. Please contact the case management office at 217-562-6378 or 217-562-6358 to schedule an appointment to complete your advance directive today.



Community Education Access to Advance Directives  01/2022