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Advance Directives - Making your wishes known

What is an advance directive?

In Kansas, there are three types of advance medical directives: the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, the Living Will, and the Do Not Resuscitate Directive. Also known as living wills, advance directives outline predetermined actions that should be taken in regards to your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to incapacity or illness. These legally binding documents outline your wishes regarding life support, resuscitation and other interventions for both your health care team and your family members.

CPR Directive or Do Not Resuscitate Directive

A CPR or Do Not Resuscitate Directive is a document that is signed by both you and your doctor that indicates your desire NOT to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation initiated should your breathing stop or heart stop beating. This type of directive is usually used by individuals who are elderly who are living with chronic illnesses or individuals who have critical, life threatening or terminal illnesses.

Living Will

A Living Will is a document that has written instructions that state your wishes regarding artificial life support if you have a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state and are unable to tell your doctors what you would want regarding medical treatment.

Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA) or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC)

Designation of Healthcare Surrogate: Allows you to appoint another adult to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. It is usually recommended that you appoint someone who knows your wishes and is willing to carry them out, especially regarding your personal, religious, moral and cultural beliefs. If you are incapacitated, your health care surrogate will have the authority to make all the medical decisions regarding your health care, including decisions about when to withhold or withdraw life prolonging procedures.

If you establish Advance Directives, make sure members of your immediate family know about them and where they are located. You'll also want to share a copy with your primary care physician to include as part of your medical records, and then provide a new copy if your directives change. Be sure to also bring a copy with you when you're admitted to the hospital.

You Have Filled Out Your Health Care Directive, Now What?

1. Your Advance Directive is an important legal document. Keep the original signed document in a secure but accessible place. Do not put the original document in a safe deposit box or any other security box that would keep others from having access to it.

2. Give photocopies of the signed original to your agent and alternate agent, doctor(s), family, close friends, clergy, and anyone else who might become involved in your health care. If you enter a nursing home or hospital, have photocopies of your document placed in your medical records.

3. Be sure to talk to your agent(s), doctor(s), clergy, family, and friends about your wishes concerning medical treatment. Discuss your wishes with them often, particularly if your medical condition changes.

4. You may also want to save a copy of your form in an online personal health records application, program, or service that allows you to share your medical documents with your physicians, family, and others who you want to take an active role in your advance care planning.

5. If you want to make changes to your documents after they have been signed and witnessed, you must complete a new document.

6. Remember, you can always revoke your Kansas document.

7. Be aware that your Kansas document will not be effective in the event of a medical emergency. Ambulance and hospital emergency department personnel are required to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) unless they are given a separate directive that states otherwise. These directives called "prehospital medical care directives" or "do not resuscitate orders" are designed for people whose poor health gives them little chance of benefiting from CPR. These directives instruct ambulance and hospital emergency personnel not to attempt CPR if your heart or breathing should stop.