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
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.
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
If you already have Advance Directives, please bring a copy with you to the hospital at the time of your admission.
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.
patient has executed such a document, the signed document will then
become a part of the patient's medical file for that admission only.
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.
- Appointment of a health care representative, who
makes medical treatment decisions for you when you are no longer able.
This representative acts under the conditions spelled out in writing by
you, and the document must be witnessed by another adult.
- A living will declaration tells physicians how much
treatment you want to have should your condition be terminal and you
are unable to communicate your wishes. With an emphasis on limiting
treatment, the living will must be in writing, and there must be two
- A life-prolonging procedures declaration tells
health care providers that you want everything possible to be done to
prolong your life, regardless of your terminal condition. It also must
be in writing, and there must be two adult witnesses.
A fourth type of Advance Directive is also an option but cannot be
prepared at St.Vincent. Many people consult an attorney for the
preparation of this document:
- A durable power of attorney is another option
allowed under Indiana law. This document identifies the person you wish
to make health care decisions for you. Unlike the health care
representative, who may only make health care decisions, the person to
whom you have given power of attorney may also make personal and
financial decisions for you. The decision-making power of this
individual must be in writing and witnessed by a notary public.
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 the Pastoral Care
Department at (317) 338-2238. After business hours, please ask your
nurse to page the hospital chaplain.