Medical Care Decisions
As a patient at CaroMont Health, we support your right as a competent adult to make decisions about your medical care, in accordance with the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990 and North Carolina law.
It is important to discuss your wishes for medical care with your loved ones. You may also want a legal document, called an advance directive, to have a written record of your wishes in case you become seriously ill. An advance directive is the best way to ensure your wishes are met, and it can relieve stress from your loved ones if you are physically or mentally unable to make your own medical decisions.
The forms and requirements for preparing advance directives can vary depending on where you live. In North Carolina, an advance directive includes one or more of the following with notarized signatures:
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment
A Health Care Power of Attorney is used to name one person you trust, called a “health care agent,” to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are not able to make decisions yourself. You may also name an alternate person in case that person is unable or unwilling to serve as your health care agent. It goes into effect when your doctor states in writing that you are not able to make choices regarding your health care.
A Living Will is used to describe your wishes related to life-prolonging measures. It only goes into effect when you are terminally ill, will not regain consciousness again or have conditions like advanced dementia.
An Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment is used to name a person to make decisions for you if you have a mental illness or disability that affects your decision-making ability. It goes into effect if you are not capable of making decisions about your care.
Communicating Your Wishes
You should always keep the original advance directive in a safe place and provide a copy to your health care agent and loved one(s). You should also discuss your choices with your health care providers and provide them with a copy of your advance directive.
As a patient of CaroMont Health, you will be asked for a copy of your advance directive so it can be placed in your medical record. If you do not have an advance directive but would like to complete one at no cost to you, CaroMont Health has representatives available to assist you. Please contact your health care provider for more information.
Reviewing and/or Changing Your Advance Directive
It is a good idea to review your advance directive at least every ten years because your wishes may change as you grow older. You may also want to consider reviewing your advance directive when other major life changes occur like a divorce or a decline in your health.
You are allowed to make changes to your advance directive at any time as long as you remain competent to make decisions. If you would like to make changes, you will need to complete a new advance directive form and have it notarized. Make sure to communicate your new wishes to your health care agent, loved one(s) and health care providers. You will also need to provide a copy of the new advance directive form to them.
If you have questions regarding advance directives, need more information or would like to complete one, please contact your CaroMont Health provider.