What Are Advance Directives?

Under federal and state law, you have the right to choose your medical treatment. In most cases, your decision to accept or reject treatment is expressed directly from you to your physician. There may be a time, however, that you are unable to express your preferences. At those times, having an advance directive can protect your rights.

Advance directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. They guide choices for caregivers if you’re terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia, or near the end of life. Types of advance directives include the living will, the health care proxy and the durable power of attorney. You do not need a lawyer in order to complete advance directives.

Saint Mary’s is committed to respecting a patient’s medical treatment preferences, whether such preferences are communicated directly or by means of an advance directive. We will comply with a patient’s wishes to the extent permissible under applicable law.

Generally, advance directives may be revoked by the patient at any time. The method and manner of the revocation varies, based upon the form. To get more information about advance directives, contact your physician or caregiver, or visit the Arkansas Department of Health website