Your Right To Make Decisions

Concerning Health Care

The Patient Self Determination Act of 1990 (The PSDA) is a Federal law which imposes on the state and providers of health care such as hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, home health agencies, and prepaid health care organizations certain requirements concerning advance directives and an individuals right under state law toake decisions concerning medical care.

Under the law, you have the right to make health care decisions for yourself. A patient must consent to any treatment or care received. Generally, if you are a competent adult, you can give this consent for yourself. For you to give this consent, you should be told what the recommended procedure is, why it is recommended, what risks are involved with the procedure, and what the alternatives are.

If you arenot able to make your own health care decisions, your advance directives can be used. The PSDA defines an advance directive as a written instruction, such as an Individual Instruction or Power of Attorney for Health Care, recognized under State law and relating to the provisions of health care when the individual is incapacitated.

An Individual Instruction is a written directive concerning a health care decision.

A Power of Attorney for Health Care (PAHC) is a document through which you designate someone as your agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make such decisions. The PAHC comes into play when you cannot make a health care decision, either because of permanent or temporary illness or injury.
The PAHC must specifically authorize your agent to make health care decisions for you and must contain the standard language set out in the law.

If you are unable to make a decision and have not given or prepared individual instructions or a PAHC, you may designate an adult of your choice, called a surrogate, to make health care decisions for you. If you do not appoint a surrogate, the members of your family may make decisions for you.

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