Whether you are currently healthy or facing a health challenge, it is important to consider what your wishes would be if you were unable to give direction to your medical caregivers because of unforeseen circumstances.
Regardless of the reason for your upcoming hospital stay, now is a good time to consider documenting your wishes so that family members will be confident making decisions on your behalf should it ever become necessary. Thinking about your preferences and discussing them with family and friends is important.
Documents called “advance directives” will make your wishes known to your physician. These documents state your choices for health care, or appoint someone to make those choices for you if you are unable to do so.
If you already have advance directives, please bring a copy with you to the hospital at the time of your admission.
The Patient Self-Determination Act went into effect on Dec. 1, 1991. This act requires hospitals, nursing facilities and other health care organizations to inform patients about advance directives by giving them written information at the time they are admitted.
If the patient has executed such a document, the signed document will then become a part of the patient's medical file for that admission only.
For years, fewer than 10 percent of all Americans had executed an advance directive. However, with the new law, both the young and old are encouraged to put their health care wishes in writing while they are still healthy and able to make these decisions.
Three types of advance directives can be prepared at St.Vincent. Call Pastoral Care, 338-2238, for assistance.
If you have questions or concerns regarding advance directives, we encourage you to talk with your physician and loved ones. Even if you have been admitted to St.Vincent previously, we will need a current copy of your advance directive. Situations and wishes change so the hospital cannot assume that advance directives are valid from one admission to another. If you need additional information about how to execute an advance directive, please contact Pastoral Care. After business hours, please ask your nurse to page the hospital chaplain.