Advance directive is a general term for oral or written instructions about future medical care if a person becomes incapable of stating his or her wishes. In these documents, both wanted and unwanted treatment may be specified. In Washington State, there are three types of advance directives: the Health Care Directive (also known as a Living Will or Directive to Physician), the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.
Advance directives are only part of the process. Protecting your health care choices is a three-step process:
- deciding what you want;
- communicating your intentions so that others understand them;
- and committing your providers, family, and health care agent(s) to the acceptance (and sometimes defense) of your choices.