With advances in modern medicine and people living longer, we or someone we know may be found to be in a terminal condition, having a terminal illness, or being in a permanently unconscious state or otherwise unable to grant informed consent for medical treatment. If you or someone you know is in that condition, do you want a doctor that you don't even know making decisions for the patient about what medical care, if any, the patient should receive?

Advance Directives

The law in the state of Ohio (and in many other states) allows for the patient to give "advance directives." There are two primary documents that can be prepared ahead of time to protect your rights and express your wishes if you are unable to grant informed consent for your own care. These are the Living Will and the Health Care Power of Attorney.

Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document which allows the individual to give specific direction regarding his or her wishes for medical care. In this document you express your wishes related to specific areas such as quality of life, treatment (or treatments you do not want), and resuscitation. The goal of this document is to be as detailed as possible in expressing your wishes for care in the event you are not able to make informed consent decisions with your physician.

Storing and Accessing Advance Directives

It is important to store your Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney in a safe location that is also accessible in the event you are incapacitated. We receive questions about how and where to store these documents fairly often. Here are some suggestions on how to store and access these important documents.

Carry It With You

Place a card or other note in your wallet, purse, and/or glove compartment of your car. The card should contain the name and contact information of your health care agent (family member, Health Care Power of Attorney holder, and attorney) as well as the location where you keep the original document and copies.

In Your Home

Keep the original documents in a secure filing location in your residence. Make sure to tell your family, health care agents, and friends where the documents are stored. Most hospitals will request an original making it necessary that the originals can be easily located. We also recommend that you note the location of the originals on all copies of your advance directives.

With Your Physician

A copy of your Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, and any other advance directives should be kept on file with your primary care physician.

Your Health Care Agent and Alternate Agents

Your primary health care agent and any alternate agents should have a copy of your Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney. The agents will be required to provide these documents if you are unable.

In Your Hospital Chart

If you find yourself in the hospital for surgery, emergency, or other care, have a copy of your advance directives added to your chart. Your health care agent or a family member may also have these documents added to your chart upon request.

Other Advance Directives

Anatomical Gift Declarations

these specific declarations relate to the donation of tissue or organs and are typically handled within the Living Will, but can also be addressed in separate documents that may include a copy of your donor registry form.

Mental Health Declaration

this document is used in addition to a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will to explicitly state your preferences specific to mental health treatment and/or to designate a person to make decisions related to your mental health treatment if you are unable to do so.

Financial Power of Attorney

this is a simple but reliable method of assigning someone to manage your finances for you if you become incapacitated.

"Preparing the documents necessary to protect your rights doesn't need to be difficult or expensive. It simply needs to be done."

A local - Akron, Ohio Law Firm - with the knowledge and experience to properly draft the Advance Directives necessary to protect your rights.