The purpose of an advance directive is to provide information about your beliefs and wishes when you are unable to do this for yourself. The best time to make health care decisions is before you are ill, when you can carefully consider your options.
Advance directives are tools for clarifying your values and wishes for care in serious health conditions. These tools will support and guide your family in making decisions for you in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself.
Creating an advance directive involves taking time to think about what type of care you want or do not want and having a conversation about your wishes with your family, physician, and loved ones.
In your community, there are resources to help you with this process, including your:
- Hospital social work department
- Local physician's office
- Senior citizen center
- Town office
These offices can assist you in obtaining and completing your advance directive.
Did you know?
- Advance directives are not only for the elderly or ill—they are good care for everyone. If a person has a sudden medical emergency, it is helpful to have all health care decisions already made.
- In New Hampshire there is a law that gives your next of kin the legal authority to speak for you about medical decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
- If you have a sudden emergency, your advance directive will give your loved ones the peace of mind to decide about your care, relieving them of the emotional burden.
- Advance directives have nothing to do with inheritance or financial beneficiaries. A health care agent is not allowed to sign financial documents.
- It is not a care plan. When a person lacks capacity, it informs family and health care providers about their values and preferences so that a plan can be developed that reflects their own values (including who should be their decision-making proxy).
- Advance directives do not dictate a person's hospital care. They were created to protect people from receiving unwanted care. Advance directives are not a do not resuscitate (DNR) order.
- Advance directives are legal documents, but you do not need a lawyer to complete them.
After completing an advance directive
It is your responsibility to keep a copy of your valid advance directive in your medical record in order for your healthcare providers to know your wishes. After you have provided a copy to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, it will be scanned into your medical record and be available to your healthcare providers in your electronic chart. The copy will be stored in your paper chart.
- You can fax the advance directive document to Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Care Management office at 603-650-6392. Please include a cover letter with your name and date of birth.
- You can mail the advance directive document to:
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Attn: Office of Care Management
One Medical Center Drive
Lebanon, NH 03756
Our responsibilities as a Medical Center
Dartmouth-Hitchcock's goal is to provide every patient with the appropriate type and level of care consistent with good medical practice.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock's staff recognizes that you, as a competent adult over the age of 18, have a right to make decisions about your medical and/or surgical treatment, as well as your right to create an advance directive. Under New Hampshire state law, your healthcare provider must comply with your advance directive.
If your healthcare provider objects to or does not agree with the conditions in your advance directive, he/she must withdraw immediately from your case and make arrangements to transfer your care to another healthcare provider who is willing to comply with your advance directive.