Legal & Ethical Decisions
Preparing for all scenarios
Part of fulfilling your responsibilities as a patient is to actively participate in your healthcare. Emanuel Medical Center has put together important information to help you talk to your medical team and better understand your treatment options. We want you to ask questions about your treatment options including:
- What risks, if any, are associated?
- What happens if I decline the treatment?
- Are there other treatment options?
- Why is the procedure or treatment necessary?
- What long-term and short-term results should I expect?
Stay informed about what is available to you. Our medical team will do its best to explain everything to you and answer all questions you have.
Part of your role as a patient may include thinking about the scenarios nobody wants to talk about. You may want to consider certain decisions about your healthcare should you be unable to voice your wishes yourself and discuss them with a friend or family member you trust. Such discussions can give your loved ones guidance if they are asked to help make treatment decisions on your behalf.
You may not be aware of legal documentation that can outline what procedures you wish to have done or not done should you be unable to speak for yourself. Following is some information about legal documents you may want to consider discussing with your physician or your lawyer.
Advance directives are legal documents that outline your preferences regarding your care in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. A Power of Attorney for Health Care names a person you have chosen to oversee your medical care. A Living Will conveys your end-of-life preferences to your physician.
POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment)
A POLST form converts your preferences regarding resuscitative efforts and life-sustaining treatments you want or don't want and turns your wishes into a legally valid medical order by your doctor. You and your physician complete a POLST form that both of you will need to sign. If you are interested in completing a POLST form, discuss this with your physician.
A healthcare proxy is someone you've appointed to make your medical decisions should you become unable to do so. You should choose a person who you know well and trust. This person may be required to use his or her own judgment if your wishes are not known. Speak with this person about your wishes and discuss becoming your health care proxy with them before designating them as your healthcare proxy.
Power of attorney
For healthcare, a power of attorney is a legal document that will name your healthcare proxy. Once written, you will sign it with a witness or have it notarized. You will need to have it copied and placed into your medical record.
For finances, a power of attorney is how you legally appoint someone to manage your finances should you become unable. This is a separate document from the power of attorney for healthcare. You can use the same person for both or choose different people to represent you.