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Understanding Medical Directives

Creating a written document clearly stating your preferences for future medical care and end-of-life care is an essential part of the advance care planning process. The document will clearly state your values and wishes, as well as support your healthcare advocate in carrying out those wishes.

  • A Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) allows you to legally appoint a healthcare advocate to make medical decisions on your behalf. A medical power of attorney can be enacted even you are not diagnosed with a terminal disease. We can assist you with drafting this document.
  • An advance directive (living will) allows you to clearly state your wishes for medical treatment at the end of life. Unlike a medical power of attorney, an advance directive can only be enacted if you are unable to communicate your wishes. Our social workers can assist you with filling out the paperwork to ensure that your decisions are legally protected.
  • Most advance directives do not include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order. A DNR formally states you do not want further medical intervention if your heart stops or you stop breathing. We can help you complete this directive with your doctors and healthcare advocate, if these are your wishes.

Review your advance care planning documents regularly to ensure your wishes and values remain aligned with the formal documents in place regarding future medical care. Be sure to inform your healthcare advocate if you change any documents.

Learn more about medical directives in Texas.