If you are 18 or older and mentally competent, you have the right to make decisions about your medical care. Advanced directives are legal forms that help you do that. Each hospital patient will receive an advance directive form and booklet at the time of admission.
With the Advance Directive form you can:
- Appoint someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to make those decisions yourself; and
- Give specific directives about what medical treatment you do or do not want if, in the future, you are unable to make these wishes known.
There are three kinds of advance directives:
- A living will lets you state your wishes about medical care, or choose another person(s) to make medical decisions for you if you lose the ability to do so.
- A health care power of attorney lets you name a person to make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable to decide for yourself.
- An advance instruction for mental health treatment allows you to give instructions and preferences about mental health treatment. You may select someone to make these decisions for you if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. This document automatically expires in two years.
Please note that your Advance Directive may be temporarily suspended during surgery. If you have questions or concerns while completing the Advance Directive form, talk to your nurse, physician or staff in Pastoral Care.
For more information about your rights as a patient, see Rights and Responsibilities .
The George Washington University Hospital believes that most patients, their families and caregivers will act with the patient's best interests in mind. The Ethics Committee Consultation Service can offer help when there is confusion or conflict in dealing with ethical aspects of a patient's care. Call the Medical Staff Office between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 202-715-4676. During other times, call the hospital page operator at 202-715-4000 and ask for the person on call or for the Ethics Committee to be paged. There is no charge to the patient or to the patient's insurance for the use of the Ethics Committee consultation service.