If you are 18 years of age or older and if you have the ability to make and communicate health care decisions, you have the right to make decisions about your medical and mental health treatment. It is important that you talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider about any treatment or procedure so that you understand what will be done and why. You have the right to say "yes" or "no" to treatments recommended to you by your doctor or mental health provider.
A time may come where family members are asked to make important health care decisions on your behalf. Advance directives allow you to make decisions ahead of time about life support, organ donation and other measures.
Common Advance Directives
If you have a question about signing an advance directive, talk with your doctor, chaplain, minister or attorney. The best time to have these discussions and to complete an advance directive is before being admitted to a hospital or nursing home. If your family physician is in the AnMed Health system, you may set up an appointment to meet with an Advance Care Plan facilitator at the practice to have the form completed.
The most common advance directive is a health care power of attorney. There are other legally valid advance directives that AnMed Health will honor and will be happy to incorporate into your treatment plan. You do not have to hire an attorney to complete an advance directive.
Frequently Asked Questions
A health care power of attorney gives one specific person, known as an agent, the authority to make all decisions regarding your health care should you become incapable of doing so. The health care power of attorney also allows you to give specific instructions about end of life decisions. You can state a desire to be allowed to die a natural death if your condition is terminal or if you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness.
The agent should be someone you trust and someone who knows your wishes about medical care. Alternate agents may be named in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
Without a health care power of attorney or another legally-valid advance directive, your loved ones and caregivers can be left without clear direction in an already stressful time. A health care power of attorney allows your loved ones to be confident that they are doing what you would want done.
An advance directive will not be used unless you are unable to make your wishes known. Under South Carolina law, there are certain restrictions on the agent when the patient is pregnant.
After you sign the health care power of attorney, at least two people must sign the document as witnesses. A notary public seal and signature are optional but not required. The document does not have to be recorded.
The health care power of attorney or any other advance directive can be revoked or changed at any time. Simply inform your agent and your doctor that you have changed your mind. You are strongly advised to prepare a new one and destroy all copies of the old one.
There are other advance directives that are legally valid and fully honored by AnMed Health. The Declaration for a Desire for a Natural Death, commonly referred to as a living will, and Five Wishes are examples of other advance directives. If a patient has multiple advance directives, such as a living will and a health care power of attorney, AnMed Health will follow the law in applying these documents. If you are a resident of Georgia, you may complete a Georgia advance directive form.
To sign an advance directive you must be 18 years old and competent. This means you understand your illness and treatment plan, you are able to make rational decisions and you can communicate your wishes to your caregivers. At least two people must witness the signing of an advance directive. You are strongly encouraged to make an advance directive before you need hospital care.
You should indicate on your advance directive whether you want nutrition or hydration (liquids) to be provided if you are irreversibly ill or permanently unconscious.
Chaplains can educate patients about and facilitate all legally-valid advance directives. Forms and any assistance you may need to complete an advance directive are provided at no cost. To reach the on-call chaplain, call 864.512.1555, and enter pager number 3636.
An advance directive from another state is probably acceptable in South Carolina. However, it is recommended you sign a form approved by the South Carolina Legislature. To be safe, any advance directives signed in another state should be reviewed by your attorney. Appropriately executed advance directives presented at the time of admission will be honored by AnMed Health.