April 19: National Healthcare Decision Day

Published: March 13, 2018

Departments of Palliative Care, Quality and Safety and Dan O’Hare, Department of Medicine

Test Your Knowledge

How much do you know about Advance Directives?

Take the Quiz

Come to Healthcare Decision Day on 4/19

Where? Tully Health Center’s Brace Auditorium

When? Choose one of the following times:

  • 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
  • 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Copies of the Stamford Hospital Advance Directive will be available at the event.

There may come a time when you’re unable to actively prepare in determining your treatment due to a serious illness, injury, or other disability. That’s where advance directives might become effective. This term is the process of making healthcare decisions—in advance—such as living wills or appointing a healthcare representative. If you’re admitted to Stamford Hospital, we’ll ask if you have any form of advance directive. Whether or not you choose to have an advance directive will in no way impact the quality of your care. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the options available in Connecticut.

What is an advance directive?

It is a legal document that allows you to provide your directions and preferences about your medical care and/or assign someone to act on your behalf. Your caregiver will use them if you become unable to make or communicate such decisions. In Connecticut, there are two types of advance directives: a living will/healthcare instructions and the appointment of a healthcare representative. You don’t need any form of advance directive in order to be admitted to Stamford Hospital or receive treatment. The services of a lawyer are not needed, and there are no fees associated with the completion of an advance directive. If you’re told otherwise, contact the Department of Public Health at 860.509.7400.

What should I know about a living will?

Your living will states your wishes about any kind of treatment you may receive. If you’re unconscious or terminally ill, the living will tells your physician whether or not you want “life support.” A living will goes into effect only when you’re unable to make or communicate decisions about your care. Having a living will also does not affect any pain medications or care needed and prescribed by your doctor.

What is the role of the healthcare representative I appoint?

He or she can make all decisions for you, including the choice to accept or refuse any treatment, service, or procedure, as well as provide, withhold, or withdraw life support in the event that you become unable to communicate.

What if I don’t have an advance directive? How will my wishes be fulfilled?

If you’re unable to make or communicate decisions and you don’t have a living will, your physician will likely consult with other people such as next of kin or close relatives based on their understanding of your wishes. In the event that no options are available, a decision will be made with your best interest in mind.

What else should I know before Decision Day?

The Stamford Hospital care team has put together a complete booklet that outlines everything about advance directives. You can download it here.

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