The following information on advance directives is intended for informational purposes only and is subject to revision as the laws are changed. Specific questions should be directed to your physician or attorney, or you may contact a Mercy Chaplain at (515) 247-3238.
Competent adults have the right to refuse or accept medical treatment after being informed of the procedures and risks. However, there is growing concern over how medical care decisions will be made when patients are unable to make decisions for themselves. Today, medical technology presents us with a number of treatments that prolong life. Some people do not wish such treatment; others wish to take advantage of every procedure available. Often, decisions must be made when the patient is no longer able to state his or her preferences.
A growing number of people are putting their choices about their health care in writing while they are still able to make such decisions. These legal documents are called advance directives.
Currently, Iowa law provides two types of advance directives: the Declaration Relating to Use of Life-Sustaining Procedures (known commonly as a Living Will) and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
Prior to executing an advance directive, it is important to talk with your physician about the effects of withholding or withdrawing different treatments. It is also a good idea to discuss your decisions with your family or loved ones. While it is not necessary to consult an attorney for your advance directives to become legally binding documents, it is often helpful.
Mercy’s Pastoral Care Department can also help you in planning and preparing advance directives for your health care. If you would like more information or would like to execute advance directives, please call the Pastoral Care Department at (515) 247-3238. Chaplains are available to explain the process, answer your questions, properly notarize your Advance Directives signature and make sure copies of your advance directives are placed in your chart.
Please note that executing an advance directive will not affect or modify any terms of your life insurance. Nor can physicians, health care facilities (including nursing homes) or insurers require you to have an advance directive. The decision is yours alone to make.