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Advance directives are written instructions you make ahead of time stating your wishes about your health and medical care. The instructions are used if you are not able to make health care decisions for yourself. For example, you may want treatment that lowers pain and brings comfort, instead of treatment that prolongs your life. The advance directive also may name a health care agent. This is a person you trust to make life-or-death medical decisions when you are not able to. If you do not have an advance directive or guardian, the law requires doctors to make reasonable efforts to find all “interested persons” to be a substitute decision maker (proxy).
There are four main kinds of advance directives. Each has a different purpose.
Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA)
An MDPOA lets you name someone to make health care decisions for you. This is called your health care agent. Your health care agent must act according to his or her understanding of what you wish or prefer. They can talk to health care providers. They can review your medical records. They can also get copies of your medical records. All needed treatment decisions can be made by them.
A living will gives instructions to providers when you have a terminal condition and you cannot make your own decisions. It can also provide instructions for times when you are not able to function without the help of a medical machine. Living wills do not allow someone to make medical decisions for you.
Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST)
The MOST form is used if you are seriously ill or have an ongoing condition and see your providers often. MOSTs tell your provider which medical procedures to do. They also tell them which ones to avoid. MOSTs must be signed by you and your provider.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Directive
CPR is an attempt to save you if your heart and/or breathing has stopped. CPR can use special drugs or it can also use special machines. It can even include firmly and repeatedly pressing on your chest. The CPR Directive allows you, your agent, guardian, or proxy to refuse CPR. If you do not have a CPR Directive and your heart and/or lungs stop or have a problem, it is assumed that you have agreed to CPR. If you have a CPR Directive, and your heart and/or lungs stop or have problems, paramedics and doctors, emergency workers or others will not try to press on your chest or use other ways to get your heart and/or lungs to work again.
These links may help you get more information. These websites are not ours. A link to a website that is not ours does not mean or imply that we endorse it.
Colorado Bar Association: https://www.cobar.org/For-the-Public/Legal-Brochures/Advance-Medical-Directives
Colorado Hospital Association: https://cha.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/medicaldecisions_2011-02.pdf
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