Whidbey General Hospital

Common Questions About Advance Care Planning

The best time to begin advance care planning is when you’re calm and clear-headed. During this process, you’ll learn about the kinds of life support technology has made possible, and decide how aggressively you would want to be treated if you were terminally ill.

 

Why should I make decisions now about dying?

The best time to begin advance care planning is when you’re calm and clear-headed. During this process, you’ll learn about the kinds of life support technology has made possible, and decide how aggressively you would want to be treated if you were terminally ill. 

 

What kinds of things will I have to think about during advance care planning?

Advance care planning helps you think about questions such as:

    • Under what circumstances would I want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?
    • Would I ever want to receive artificial feeding?
    • Would I want to be hospitalized if I am already in a nursing home or very sick at home?
    • If I am in a coma, would I want to be kept on life support indefinitely if there was no reasonable chance I would recover?
    • If I cannot be cured, would I want my caregivers and loved ones to focus on my comfort only?

 

What if I were in a bad accident today? I might want something different than if I were at the end stage of a disease.

Your wishes will probably evolve as you go through life, so it’s important to have ongoing conversations with your doctor, other members of your health care team and your family.  

 

What happens if I arrive at the hospital in bad shape and can’t speak for myself?

If you’ve given a current Directive to Physicians (sometimes called a living will) to your doctor, or had it added to hospital records, we’ll know what you want done if the need arises. 

Without a Directive to Physicians, we must assume you want a comprehensive range of life-sustaining procedures and treatments such as ventilation support, dialysis and tube feeding.

 

If I can’t speak for myself, how will my caregivers know what I want done?

Under Washington law, you may establish a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This should be a trusted friend or family member who will carry out your wishes if you can’t speak for yourself. This person should be thoroughly familiar with your preferences with respect to potential future health care decisions.

You may change your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, just as you may change other advance directives such as a living will or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

 

What if I don’t have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

In the absence of a designated Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Washington state law designates the legal decision-makers in the following order: 

    1. Court-appointed guardian
    2. Spouse  
    3. Adult children (all must agree)  
    4. Parents (both must agree)  
    5. Adult brothers and sisters (all must agree)

 

What if I don’t do any advance care planning?

As you can imagine, your being in a critical medical condition would be extremely stressful for your loved ones. Designating a trusted family member or friend as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and sharing with them your values and wishes, could help your family avoid the nightmare of indecision and give them the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes have been honored.

 

How can Whidbey General help me with advance care planning?

Even if you have never been treated at Whidbey General, you may wish to provide us with your completed advance care planning documents. At no charge, the hospital will open a medical record for you and include your documents, thereby ensuring that if you are a patient here in the future, your doctors and nurses will be able to provide care in strict accordance with your wishes.

Whether you have been a patient here or not, completing this form and sending us your advance care planning documents means this important information will be part of your medical record should it be needed someday. 

Mail the completed form and advance care planning documents to:

Whidbey General Hospital
Health Information Management
Att'n Sheryl, HIM
101 North Main Street
Coupeville, WA  98239

 

Read about additional advance care planning resources.

 

 

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