The following are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding advance directives and advance care planning:
What is an advance directive?
An advance directive is a legal document outlining your wishes for health care, so they will be known in the event you are not able to communicate those choices. An advance directive is not a do not resuscitate (DNR) order. An advance directive gives you control over who can make decisions for you. There are two parts to the New Hampshire advance directive: a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will.
What is a durable power of attorney for health care?
A durable power of attorney for health care (DPOAHC) is a document in which you name someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself. A DPOAHC also may be called your health care agent, proxy, or surrogate.
What is a living will?
A living will documents your written wishes about life-sustaining treatments, if you are permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to speak for yourself.
What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?
A DNR order is different than an advance directive. A DNR is a medical order that specifies your wishes in the event that your heart stops. A DNR order expresses these wishes in your medical chart when you are in the hospital. Simply stated, it is your request that, in the event your heart or breathing stops, no attempt will be made to resuscitate you with chest compression, defibrillator shock, insertion of a breathing tube, or resuscitation drugs. A DNR order must be written in your medical chart by a physician or nurse practitioner.
If you want others to follow your DNR wishes after you leave the hospital, speak to your health care provider about an out-of-hospital DNR.
How do I complete my advance directive documents?
If you wish to complete an advance directive, Dartmouth-Hitchcock encourages you to do so. The Center for Shared Decision Making and the Aging Resource Center in Lebanon have staff and volunteers available to assist you. Contact the Center for Shared Decision Making by email at CSDM@hitchcock.org or call 603-650-5578 to schedule an appointment. Contact the Aging Resource Center at 603-653-3460. There is no charge for this service.
Do I need an attorney to complete an advance directive?
You do not need an attorney to complete an advance directive. However, if you have any legal questions, it is your responsibility to contact and talk to an attorney. DHMC does not provide legal counsel. Please be aware that an advance directive does not include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.
Will my health care provider know that I have an advance directive?
No, you must tell your health care provider.
To whom should I give copies?
You should give copies of your Advance Directive to your:
- Health care providers
- Hospital (DHMC or other)
- Person chosen to be your health care agent.
You should also keep the original copy with your other important documents.
What if I change my mind?
You can change your advance directives at any time by destroying your current copy and filling out a new form. You should notify your health care provider and your DPOAHC (durable power of attorney for health care) to make sure they are aware of your changes and provide them with new updated copies.