Advanced Care Planning

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.

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. Place your wishes in writing while you are well, and share your decision with anyone who may need to be notified.

Types of Advance Directives

  • Living Wills: These 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 Healthcare: This is a document that lets you name a person to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so. This is also called a "healthcare proxy."

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

    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 witnesses.
    • 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.

    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.

    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.

    Yes, Louisiana law provides that an advance directive can be taken back or canceled at any time by the person who made it without regard to mental state or competency. Your advance directive can be canceled by any of the following methods:

    • By being canceled, 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 canceled until the attending doctor is informed.

    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.