Q: When I went into the hospital for surgery recently, I was asked if I had any "advance directives." What, exactly, are advance directives? Q: Why are there different advance directive documents? Do I need more than one? A:
A: Advance directives are documents, signed by you and properly witnessed or notarized, that set forth your health care instructions to doctors and others to be used when you cannot speak for yourself. Advance directives are set forth in a health care power of attorney and a living will.
Each document has a different purpose, so, depending upon your situation, you may need more than one. For example, a living will tells health care professionals the kind of care you want if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious and unable to make your wishes known. A health care power of attorney allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to do so.Q: What about DNR orders?A:
A DNR (Do-Not Resuscitate) order differs from other advance directives because it is written in your medical records and must be signed by a physician. It allows you and your doctor to provide instructions about your end-of-life treatment, including the circumstances under which you would not want to be resuscitated. Q: How can I plan to make an anatomical gift at the time of my death?A:
You can make an anatomical gift by registering as an organ, eye and/or tissue donor through the Ohio Donor Registry. You can declare your wish to donate organs, eyes and/or tissue when receiving or renewing your driver's license or state identification card at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). You can also join the registry online at www.ohiobmv.com or
through a mail-in Ohio Donor Registry form.
Q: Can I make my wish to become an organ donor known through an advance directive? Q: If I have old advance directives, are they still valid?A:
A: Yes. You can indicate that you wish to make an anatomical gift through your living will, but your name should also be included in the Ohio Donor Registry, because that is the database through which Ohio organ and tissue donors are identified at the time of death.
As long as the required legal language is included in your advance directives, then they are still valid. However, if it has been a while since you last reviewed your advance directives, you should consult your attorney to make sure that your wishes are still accurately reflected.Q: Where can I get these documents?A:
Your attorney can prepare these documents and can help you tailor them to meet your specific needs. Also, you may obtain a copy of suggested forms by downloading them from www.midwestcarealliance.org/aws/MCA/pt/sp/advance_directives
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was originally prepared by Columbus attorney Alan S. Acker, and updated by Columbus attorney Brandon A. Borgmann.