Granite Falls Health has joined the grass roots initiative National Health Care Directives Day which exists to inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. Granite Falls Health has joined the NHDD initiative to educate people in the community about health care directives and the important part they play in having a person’s wishes followed if they are unable to speak for themselves.
What is a Health Care Directive?
A health care directive is a written document that informs others of your wishes about your health care. It allows you to name a person (“agent”) to decide for you if you are unable to decide. It also allows you to name an agent if you want someone else to decide for you. You must be at least 18 years old to make a health care directive.
Why have a Health Care Directive?
A health care directive is important if your attending physician determines you can’t communicate your healthcare choices. It is also important if you wish to have someone else make your healthcare decisions.
Minnesota law allows you to inform others of your healthcare wishes. You have the right to state your wishes or appoint an agent in writing so that others will know what you want if you can’t tell them because of illness or injury. The information that follows tells about health care directives and how to prepare them. It does not give every detail of the law.
Must I have a Health Care Directive?
You don’t have to have a health care directive, but writing one helps to make sure your wishes are followed. You will still receive medical treatment if you don’t have a written directive. Healthcare providers will listen to what people close to you say about your treatment preferences, but the best way to be sure your wishes are followed is to have a health care directive.
How do I make a Health Care Directive?
There are free forms available for health care directives. You don’t have to use a certain form, but your health care directive must meet the following requirements to be legal: be in writing and dated, state your name, be signed by you or someone you authorize to sign for you, have your signature verified by a notary public or two witnesses, include the appointment of an agent to make healthcare decisions for you and/or instructions about the healthcare choices you wish to make. Before you prepare or revise your directive, you should discuss your healthcare wishes with your doctor.
I prepared my directive in another state.
Health Care Directives prepared in other states are legal if they meet the requirements of the other state’s laws or the Minnesota requirements, but requests for assisted suicide will not be followed.
What should I do with my health care directive?
You should inform others of your Health Care Directive and give your health care agents copies of it. You may wish to inform family members and your healthcare providers that you have a Health Care Directive. You should give them a copy. It’s a good idea to review and update your directive as your needs change. Keep it in a safe place where it is easily found.
Resources are available on the National Health Care Decisions Day website at www.nhdd.org including videos on how to talk with a loved one about completing a health care directive. They also have free advance directive forms if you look under the state specific resources section. If you have questions or concerns, talk with your health care provider.