Planning in Advance for Your Medical Treatment
Planning in advance is important. And advance directives allow you to do just that. Sometimes illness or injury happen suddenly and people don’t get the opportunity to talk to a doctor and decide about treatment for themselves. If they haven’t appointed a health care proxy, or a decision maker, prior to falling ill, the Family Health Care Decisions Act gives the authority to a “surrogate.” The surrogate is usually a family member or close friend and they take on the responsibility of making health care decisions, most times without fully knowing what your wishes are. This is why you want to have these discussions with your loved ones early, appoint your health care proxy, let them know your wishes and write them down on paper.
Advance Directives to ensure that your wishes about treatment will be followed if you become unable to decide for yourself. In New York State, appointing someone you can trust to decide
about treatment if you become unable to decide for yourself is the best way to protect your
treatment wishes and concerns.
Many types of Advance Directive documents exist.
- A Health Care Proxy is a written document that allows you to choose a designated person to make medical decisions on your behalf when your doctor determines you are unable to do so for yourself.
- Living Will is a document that contains your health care wishes and is addressed to
unnamed family, friends, hospitals and other health care facilities. It allows you to express your
health care wishes in the event your doctor determines you are no longer able to make medical
decisions for yourself.
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is a written document that tells medical professionals to
not perform CPR if your breathing or heartbeat stops. Doctors issue DNR orders.
- Halachic Pathway assures that a patient’s family and chosen rabbinic advisor (or posek) can
be included in the medical decision-making process.
If you have not yet filled out any of these forms and would like to, ask your RN Case Manager.
They will be able to provide you with the forms and will also be able to assist you in filling them out.
Know Your Rights
You Have the Right to Make Decisions about Treatment
Adults in New York State have the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, including life sustaining treatment. Our constitution and state laws protect this right. This means that you
have the right to request or consent to treatment, to refuse treatment before it has started
and to have treatment stopped once it has begun.
You Have the Right to Decide About Emergency Treatment to Restart Your Heart and Lungs
Your right to decide about treatment includes the right to decide about cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR), an emergency treatment to restart the heart and lungs when your
breathing or circulation stop. Sometimes doctors and patients decide in advance that CPR
should not be provided, and the doctor gives the medical staff an order not to resuscitate
(DNR order). If your physical or mental condition prevents you from deciding about CPR,
someone you appoint, your family members or others close to you can decide.
You Have the Right to Decide About Do Not Intubate (DNI) Orders
Do Not Intubate (DNI) means that no breathing tube will be placed in the throat in the event
of breathing difficulties or respiratory arrest. If you stop breathing, you will not be placed on
an artificial breathing machine, and the insertion of a tube or mechanical ventilation will not
be initiated. The DNI order can be a separate Advance Directive from the DNR order, but in
most cases they are ordered together.
Self-determination is the right to participate in your health care decision-making.
Advance Directives are written documents that assist you in communicating your wishes regarding
your medical care if you become physically or mentally unable to communicate due to an accident