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Advance Directives

As one of our patients, you have the right to obtain information regarding Advance Directives. Our interdisciplinary team is available to assist you in this endeavor.

As you access our outpatient, ambulatory surgery and inpatient admission sites, HSS staff will provide information to all adults who receive medical care detailing their rights to make decisions about their medical treatment.

What are Advance Directives?

Advance Directives are documents you create to describe the extent of medical treatment you want to receive – or do not want to receive – should you become unconscious or too ill to communicate. They are called "advance directives," because you give instructions in advance of the time when you might need someone to follow your wishes regarding your medical care if/when you are unable to express them.

Although the topic may be difficult to discuss, it is important for you to record your wishes and preferences. We recommend that you discuss advance directives with your spouse, other family members, physicians, nurses, and clerics while you are feeling well and thinking clearly. Advance Directives include:

  • A health care proxy, which gives the person you choose as your agent the authority to make all health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. This includes the decision to remove or provide life-sustaining treatment, unless you specify otherwise on your health care proxy form. Note that the New York State Health Care Proxy Law requires that you have two witnesses sign the document in your presence. You do not need to have the document notarized.
  • A living will, which gives specific information about the procedures you would like – or would not like – to be performed if or when you become terminally ill.
  • A power of attorney or durable power of attorney, which authorizes the person you designate to make financial decisions for you. A power of attorney cannot be used to make health care decisions – you must complete a health care proxy for that purpose.
  • Anatomical gift – You can use the health care proxy form to specify that your organ and/or tissues be used for transplantation, research or educational purposes. Failure to include your wishes on this form will not be taken to mean that you do not want to be an organ and/or tissue donor.