Advance directives are legal documents that describe your treatment preferences in end-of-life situations. These legal documents give voice to persons unable to speak for themselves. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so all adults should have advance directives in place. Having written instructions can help reduce confusion or disagreement. Anyone age 18 or older may prepare advance directives.

Living will. This written, legal document spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don’t want, such as mechanical breathing (respiration and ventilation), tube feeding or resuscitation. In some states, living wills may be called healthcare declarations or directives.

Medical Power of Attorney (POA). The medical POA is a legal document that designates an individual – referred to as your healthcare agent or proxy – to make medical decisions for you in the event  you’re unable to do so. A medical POA is sometimes called a durable power of attorney for healthcare. However, it is different from a power of attorney authorizing someone to make financial transactions for you.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order. This is a request to not have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. Advance directives do not have to include a DNR order, and you don’t have to have an advance directive to have a DNR order. Your doctor can put a DNR order in your medical chart.

Cumberland Medical Center is obligated to provide you information regarding your rights to make decisions concerning healthcare, including the right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment, even if that treatment is life sustaining.

If you or your family members need help making difficult decisions while in the hospital, we can provide assistance. Please call (931) 459-7199 to request advanced directive and living will forms.