Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Balance

Font Size

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

Stand Up to Hurtful Family Members

By Hayley Krischer While one of the simplest ways to deal with bullies is to avoid them... that's not always possible. Sometimes they live in your house. Sometimes they're even related to you -- by blood. Dysfunctional family dynamics are often written off as "That's just the way my family is." But you don't have to let yourself be manipulated, or tolerate abusive behavior. Instead, hold your ground with these strategies:

Read the Stand Up to Hurtful Family Members 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
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Hungover man
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Woman worn out on couch
Happy and sad faces
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
laughing family