Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Questions & Answers: Advance Directives and End of Life Decisions

    Is there federal law about advance directives?

    Yes, the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) is a federal law regarding advance directives. It requires medical facilities that receive Medicaid and Medicare funds to have procedures for handling patients' advance directives, and to tell patients upon admission about their rights under state law to use advance directives. The PSDA does not set standards for what advance directives must say; it does not require facilities to provide advance directive forms; and it does not require people to have advance directives. Rather, the PSDA's purpose is to make people aware of their rights.

    The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) evaluates and accredits nearly 19,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, not-for-profit organization, JCAHO has developed standards for the documentation of patient wishes regarding advance directives, which apply to the vast majority of healthcare institutions.

    Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

    Rise Above Rivalry

    By Julie Taylor Your friend with the “perfect” life gets dumped, and you’re a teeny, tiny bit happy about it. Your coworker got passed over for a big promotion, and you find yourself cheering a little on the inside. Yes, you know it’s horrible... but you just can’t seem to help it. The Germans dubbed this "schadenfreude" (literally, "harm joy"), and most of us have been guilty of feeling it at one point or another. That said, it’s just not healthy to take "malicious pleasure" in someone else's...

    Read the Rise Above Rivalry article > >

    Will a pregnant woman's advance directives be honored?

    Under some state laws, advance directive instructions to refuse treatment may not be honored while a woman is pregnant. If you wish your advance directives to apply during pregnancy, you will improve your chances of having this wish honored, although not ensure it, by stating the wish clearly.

    Can I state my wishes about organ donation, cremation or burial in my advance directives?

    Several states permit you to indicate your wishes regarding organ donation. In those states that do not specifically address the issue of organ donation you may state your wishes in your advance directive. However, you should consider expressing your wishes through a form designed for that purpose. You also should be sure to make your family aware of your wishes. Since your advance directive and the authority of your agent technically ceases upon your death, you should tell your wishes about cremation or burial to your family or the executor of your estate.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
     
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
     
    Take your medication
    Slideshow
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Article
     
    Hungover man
    Slideshow
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Slideshow
     
    Woman worn out on couch
    Article
    Happy and sad faces
    Quiz
     
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    Article
    laughing family
    Quiz