Although it is hard to talk about the final phase of life, it can be a great gift to our family and loved ones to prepare them in advance for the sometimes difficult and distressing decisions that must be made. Preparing a few simple legal forms known as advance directives can help ensure that your wishes are respected and that your health care decisions stay in the hands of people you trust.
Advance directives are a way of making your voice heard when you can no longer speak. They allow you to appoint someone to make your health care decisions for you when you no longer can and to administer or withhold treatment and procedures. Advance directives are not just for the elderly. All people who desire to direct their medical care in the future should complete an advance directive.
The Office of the NYS Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman publishes this guide detailing how to make your wishes known and honored by guide explains your right to choose medical treatments. The guide describes the steps you can take under state law to help ensure that your personal health care decisions are known and honored if you are unable to speak for yourself. This guide also includes sample advance directive forms with tips on how to use them.
Individuals facing serious life-threatening illness and approaching death deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion and to receive care that is focused on the individual’s goals for care. Families need and deserve to receive support. To achieve their goals, individuals need to plan ahead, know their choices, make sound decisions and share their wishes with their loved ones and health care professionals. This web site aims to educate and empower patients, families, health care and other professionals to accomplish this goal.
Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA) is a law that allows family members to make decisions regarding medical treatment for their loved ones who have lost the ability to make such decisions and who have not prepared an advance directive stating their wishes. The law includes many safeguards to ensure that the patient receives sound medical treatment and that decisions are made consistent with the patient’s wishes and best interests.
In July of 2011, New York State passed a new law expanding the FHCDA to include decisions regarding hospice care. The new law allows surrogates to make decisions regarding hospice care regardless of where the decision is made and where the hospice care is provided.
The New York State Health Care Proxy Form has been revised. The form allows individuals to designate a person to serve as their agent and make health care decisions on their behalf if they should lose the capacity to do so for themselves. The form has been revised to include space for instructions concerning organ and/or tissue donation. Click download a copy of the revised form along with information and instructions on how to complete.
The Department of Health has approved a physician order form, the Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST), that can be used statewide by health care providers and facilities as the legal equivalent of an inpatient Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. MOLST was created to provide a single document that would function as an actionable medical order and could transition with a patient through all health care settings. It is intended that the form will be transported with the patient between different health care settings in order that their wishes for life-sustaining treatment and CPR will be clearly indicated.
This booklet is designed to help people with advanced cancer and their family and caregivers understand the diagnosis and treatment options, discuss these options for care throughout the course of the illness, and find support.
PREPARE is an interactive website called that assists people to think through how health care decisions would be made if they are unable or unwilling to guide their own health care. The site is user friendly, easy to navigate, has helpful videos and a narrator for every aspect of advance care planning one should address. PREPARE walks you through an easy to follow five step process with content that is tailored to each person’s individual needs and preferences.