Advanced Directives, Illinois Law
Each of us takes pride in being able to make our own choices. We feel it is our right, and this right is especially important in the area of healthcare decisions.
A federal and Illinois state law (the Patient Self-Determination Act) has been enacted to give patients a say in healthcare decisions.
We, at Gateway Regional Medical Center, want to insure your healthcare choices are informed, unrestricted and respected.
It is the policy at Gateway Regional Medical Center to ask adult patients whether they have signed an advanced directive when they are admitted, and for the caregivers to follow such advanced directives unless contrary to Illinois or established policies.
At no time will the care of any person admitted to Gateway Regional Medical Center be conditioned on the basis of whether he or she has signed an advanced directive.
What is an advanced directive?
An advanced directive is a general term for a signed and witnessed document which provides specific instructions for healthcare treatment or decision-making in the event a patient is unable to personally make those decisions at the time they are needed.
Illinois law provides any competent person, age 18 or older, can complete an advanced directive. This document allows their wishes to be made known when they are unable to personally make healthcare decisions.
A living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare are two types of advanced directives. Although they are alike in their purpose, they differ in how they work.
Completing an advanced directive
If you have not considered completing an advanced directive, please read this information to assist you in a decision based on your personal, religious and ethical values.
The Case Management/Social Work Department at Gateway Regional Medical Center will answer any questions and have both Illinois state advanced directives forms available.
A Living Will
A living will is a document allowing you to request, in advance, what kind of life-prolonging procedures be withheld or withdrawn. It is used only when the patient is terminally ill and unable to make treatment decisions.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
A Power of Attorney is a document that permits a person, called the principal, to delegate to another person, called the agent, the power to make any healthcare decisions the principal would make. The scope of the power given to the agent may be as broad or narrow as the principal wishes. The standard form grants the agent broad medical decision making power which the principal may limit. The law does not require that this particular form be used.
Making Them Valid
To be valid, both the living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare must be dated, signed by the person initiating the form and witnessed. Illinois law does not require they be notarized.
Talking with Your Family
Discussions of healthcare issues with your family and physician, plus completing an advanced directive before a serious or life-threatening illness occurs will help assure your wishes will be known.
A copy of the advanced directive should be given to your family, physician, lawyer, clergy, the person appointed as durable power of attorney, and any other people you want to be aware of your decisions. Once completed, the advanced directive should be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure it still indicates your current wishes.
What if I Change My Mind?
An advanced directive may be changed or revoked (cancelled) at any time, either in writing or verbally. It is important that your family, person appointed as durable power of attorney, physician, and other appropriate people be notified when any changes are made.
What if My Decisions Cannot be Carried Out?
If the decisions you indicated on your living will or instructions given by the person you appointed as durable power of attorney for healthcare cannot be honored while you are a patient at Gateway Regional Medical Center, you and your surrogate will be informed.
We will also assist you, if necessary, in arranging transfer of care to another healthcare provider.
You can reach the Gateway Regional Medical Center Case Management/Social Work Department by calling 618-798-3018. Representatives from this department can help answer your questions and provide you with more information on advanced directives.
Additional information regarding advanced directives may be obtained by contacting your physician or attorney or Contact Us.