Decision Making
How detailed should a health care directive be?

A health care directive is a document that describes the treatment decisions that a person wants made in the future. It’s used to guide care if the patient can’t communicate in any other way at when a decision has to be made.

A person needs to consider what others will need to know about his or her wishes. These wishes can be general or specific. Over time these wishes may change, as the patient develops a better idea of what he or she wants and doesn’t want. This new information can be added to an existing directive, or a new one can be written to replace the old one.

A directive can also name a person to act as a proxy for the patient. This person may become the patient’s spokesperson, interpreter and advocate. It’s important that the patient talk to the proxy, to make sure the proxy knows the patient’s wishes intimately. The proxy also needs to know of any changes in those wishes.

Health Care Directives