An advance health care directive allows you to identify a health care surrogate, someone who can advocate on your behalf and make your wishes known. Learn about the differences between an advance directive and medical orders from StickyJ Medical ID so that you and your family members are best prepared for worst-case scenarios:
Advance Directives: The most common type of advance directive is a living will. It can also describe the kind of medical treatment you’d like to have or not have (e.g. being placed on a ventilator, fed through a feeding tube, blood transfusions), and it provides a means of conveying your end of life wishes to family members. Some important considerations for advance directives:
- These are legal documents, not medical orders, so EMS personnel are not always obligated to honor an advance directive.
- You can create your own free Advance Directive online, and it is something every healthy adult should do. Forms are also available from your health care provider or your state health department.
Medical Orders: If you have been diagnosed with a life-limiting advanced illness, you may want to talk with your doctor about having a Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) or Physician's Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (“POLST”) order. These two types of documents are medical orders, created in collaboration with your doctor, and will be honored by medical personnel:
- The Do Not Resuscitate order only relates to cardiac events, and signals your decision to have CPR withheld if your heart stops.
- POLST orders include a CPR directive, but cover follow-on treatment as well, with the goal of providing the type of care you would like to receive.
If you do not yet have an advance directive, you can take a moment and create one now – learn more about what is available for your state here.