Advance directives are documents that state the patient's choices regarding:
- Life Support
- Stopping Treatment
- Life-Sustaining Treatment
1. You have the right to information about your medical condition, diagnosis, prognosis and possible treatments. You also have the right to refuse any treatment, including lifesaving medical treatment.
2. A representative of the hospital will talk to you about your rights outlined above and your right to make advance directives. You also have the right not to make advance directives. That is your choice.
3. You may choose between a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will, or you may have both. The basic difference between the two is that the durable power of attorney for health care designates a particular person to make decisions for you when you are not able to decide for yourself and may cover all health care decisions. A living will states your wishes about withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining care in the event of terminal illness.
4. If you choose to make advance directives, the hospital will provide the necessary forms for making a living will or assigning a durable power of attorney for health care. You do not need a lawyer in order to make an advance directive. Legal advice, however, is certainly appropriate. There are options other than the forms provided in the Kansas statute that are legal and can be used.
5. Advance directives may be witnessed or notarized. Kansas recognizes both, but you should know that some states require notarized documents.
6. If you make advance directives, you should discuss them with your physician. You are responsible for making copies available to him or her, all other doctors you deal with, and the hospital. You should also discuss and share copies of your advance directives with your family members. It is always a good idea to keep copies for yourself.
7. If you wish to change your mind about your advance directives at a later date, you may do so. You can revoke the old document(s) and make new advance directives that must also be witnessed or notarized. A living will may be revoked by destroying the document, signing a written revocation, or telling an adult that the document no longer expresses your wishes. For a verbal revocation to be effective, the adult who heard the verbal revocation must confirm it in writing. This document must be given to the attending physician. A durable power of attorney for health care must be formally revoked in writing with a witnessed or notarized statement.
For more information on advance directives, please contact our Case Management Department at 785-776-2868.
The Kansas living will is found in a statute titled “The Natural Death Act.” The statute allows any adult to sign a form (relating to themselves only), which states that life-sustaining procedures should be withheld or withdrawn when decision-making capacity is lost and when such procedures would merely prolong death. Medical procedures deemed necessary to provide comfort or alleviate pain are not considered “life-sustaining procedures” under the act.
For the living will or Natural Death Act Declaration to be effective, two physicians must personally examine the patient and determine that the patient has a terminal illness. The physicians must agree that death will occur whether or not the medical procedure or intervention is done. The form is not effective if the patient is pregnant.
The living will must be notarized or witnessed by two adults who are not related to, nor will inherit from the person making the living will. Witnesses cannot be financially responsible for or directly involved with the provision of health care for the person making the living will.
Click here for a Living Will form (PDF).
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A durable power of attorney for health care is a document in which a person gives someone else the right to make decisions about health care for them. The person who would make the decisions is known as an “agent” and may be any adult except a physician or other healthcare provider (including people who work for, own, or are directors of hospitals and other healthcare institutions), unless the healthcare provider is related by blood or marriage to the person signing the document.
The powers that can be granted include: the power to make decisions, give consent, refuse consent, or withdraw consent for organ donation, autopsy, or the treatment of any physical or mental condition. The agent may also make all necessary arrangements for hospitalization, physicians, or other care, and may request and receive all information and records, and sign releases for records.
The person signing the durable power of attorney for health care may choose which of the above powers the agent will have. Specific instructions may be given. For example, a specific treatment may be prohibited. Requests for treatment, including life-sustaining care, may also be included.
Unless limited, the durable power of attorney for health care allows the agent to make decisions about withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in all types of illnesses (including comas or persistent vegetative states) and is not limited to terminal illness.
The document must be notarized or witnessed by two adults who are not related to, nor will inherit from the person signing the document. Witnesses cannot be financially responsible for or directly involved with the provision of health care for the person assigning the durable power of attorney for health care.
Click here for a Durable Power of Attorney form (PDF).
Advance Directives FAQs
Do I have to complete an advance directive?
Advance directives are optional documents. However, if you choose to complete one, it is important that you provide a copy to members of your healthcare team. Please bring a copy of your living will or durable power of attorney to the hospital.
What is the purpose of having an advance directive?
The purpose of an advance directive is to allow you to tell us your choices about your care in the future. You put your wishes in writing while you are able to make decisions. The law says that all hospitals must give you information about your right to make decisions about your medical care. Hospital staff and practitioners who provide care in the hospital will comply with your directives, or try to provide referral to a caregiver or facility that will.
Can my family and friends make decisions when I am unable to?
Your doctor will ask your closest relative or friend who can be reached to help make decisions if you are too sick. This approach is usually okay for most situations. But sometimes your family and friends can’t agree on what should be done. It can be very helpful to have one person named as your durable power of attorney for health care. This is the person who will help the doctor make decisions about your care when you are unable to do so.
Social Work Case Managers will assist patients who wish to execute an advance directive and can be contacted at 786-776-2868.