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Advance Directives

The laws of Louisiana uphold the fundamental rights of all persons to control the decisions relating to their own medical care, including the use of life-sustaining procedures. This patient right is respected through the Declaration Concerning Life-Sustaining Procedures document, best known as a Living Will.

Advance Directives are a way for you to decide in advance the type of medical care you want if you become unable to make that decision later. Put advance directives in writing now, while you are well, and share your decision with anyone who may need to be notified.

There are Two Types of Advance Directives:

Living Wills
Living Wills are written instructions that explain your wishes for health care if you are dying or are in an irreversible coma or unable to state your wishes.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document that lets you name a person to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so. Sometimes this is also called a "health care proxy."

State and federal laws require hospitals to give you information about advance directives. We must also tell you our policy for carrying out your advance directive. If you need more information, please ask one of our staff to help you.

Who Can Have an Advanced Directive?
As an adult you can, at any time, write wishes and instructions for your doctor. However, the following guidelines are important:

  • You must sign the written statement in front of two winesses. The witnesses must also sign.
  • The witnesses must be competent adults who are not entitled to any part of your estate at the time of your death.
  • A person can make an oral or nonverbal declaration in the presence of two witnesses (as described above) only AFTER being diagnosed with a terminal condition.

Responsibility to Inform the Doctor
You are responsible for letting your doctor know that you have an advance directive. If you become mentally or physically unable to communicate, any other person may let the doctor know about your advance directive. It is important to give your doctor a copy of your advance directive and to provide a copy whenever you are admitted to the hospital.

Does an Advance Directive Affect Insurance?
NO. Louisiana law provides that an advance directive cannot affect your ability to receive life insurance or change the terms of any insurance policy, regardless of what the policy may say.

The law also states that if life support is removed, according to your advance directive, death cannot and will not be considered suicide.

Can an Advance Directive Be Cancelled?
YES. Louisiana law provides that an advance directive can be taken back or cancelled at any time by the person who made it without regard to mental state or competency. Your advance directive can be cancelled by any of the following methods:

  • By being cancelled, defaced, damaged, burned, torn, or otherwise destroyed by you or someone else in front of you and at your direction.
  • By writing a statement that cancels the original decision and signing it, with the date listed.
  • By speaking your wishes or indicating them by unspoken gestures.

NOTE: Your advance directive is still active and not considered cancelled until the attending doctor is informed.

Before Making Decisions
Before making any decisions, we urge you to talk to your doctor, lawyer, clergy, and family. Our staff can tell you how to reach our chaplain or social workers.