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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Advance Directives

You have the right to determine the type of care you want if you have a life-threatening illness. To make sure your wishes are carried through, discuss your medical care preference with your significant other, family members and doctor. Most importantly, complete advance directives.

Advance directives are documents that state your wishes/preferences about the type of medical care you receive. Your doctor will refer to these documents only if due to your medical condition you are unable to make decisions about your medical care. Advance directives do the following:

  • Documents your wishes/preferences
  • Eases the decision-making burden on your loved ones
  • Allows you to choose someone you trust to make decisions about your care
  • Fosters peace of mind and sense of control
  • Useful in case of sudden accidents/illness; chronic illness; advancing age
  • Avoids unwanted medical/surgical treatments

A Voice in Your Future (pdf) provides a detailed overview of advance directives and how they can help you and your family in having your wishes recognized.

If you do not complete advance directives and are unable to communicate your wishes, your medical treatment will be decided for you in accordance with the Health Care Surrogate Act.

Types of Advance Directives

We encourage you to talk about your wishes with people who are important to you:

  • Openly discuss your wishes with your significant other, family, doctor and clergy.
  • Choose an agent - someone with whom you have discussed your wishes, and who is able and willing to represent them.
  • Discuss your values, beliefs (health, illness, dying, fears) and wishes with your agent.
  • Let your significant other and family know how to easily contact your agent/attorney-in-fact.
  • Discuss organ donation with your significant other and family.

The Health Learning Center offers information, including a DVD, about advance directives. Visit the Center, located at 201 E. Huron, 3rd floor, suite 304, to get your questions answered.Call 312-926-5465 to schedule a free appointment with a health educator for an overview and discussion of the Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Last UpdateApril 16, 2014
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