Whether you are 25 or 75, it’s important to write down your wishes for medical care and give a copy to your doctors and loved ones. This way, others will not have to guess what you want if you are too sick or injured to tell them yourself.
Doctors and hospitals refer to your written health care wishes as “advance directives.” In Michigan, the legal document for advance directives is called a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, or DPOA-HC. A DPOA-HC names someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. This person is known as your Patient Advocate.
How to Set Up an Advance Directive
Michigan Medicine has created an easy booklet and forms to walk you through the process to complete a DPOA-HC. You are welcome to use the templates with your own doctor, even if you are not a Michigan Medicine patient! One advantage of using this booklet is that it meets the requirements to be a legal document in the state of Michigan.
Here’s an overview of the steps involved.
1. Choose a Patient Advocate
Your Patient Advocate may be a friend, a family member or someone else you trust to carry out your wishes.
2. Write Down Your Health Care Wishes
This section is not legally binding in the state of Michigan, but it can serve as a helpful guide to your doctors and your Patient Advocate. This can include your preferences about pain management, life support, organ donation and anything else that is important to you.
3. Sign Your Document in Front of Two Witnesses
Your witnesses may not be your Patient Advocate, your health care provider, close family members or anyone who could benefit financially after your death. They need to watch you sign the form and sign it themselves on the same day. The purpose of having witnesses is to verify your identity and that you were mentally competent when you signed the DPOA-HC.
4. Ask Your Patient Advocate to Sign the Form
Your Patient Advocate signs to accept their responsibilities.
5. Give a Copy to Your Doctor
Provide a copy of your completed DPOA-HC to each of your doctors to include in your medical record. Give additional copies to your Patient Advocate and family members, and keep another in a safe, accessible place.
Visit the Michigan Medicine advance directives page for more information about advance care planning or to download the booklet and forms. You do not need to be a Michigan Medicine patient to use these resources.
Visit begintheconversation.org for additional documents and ideas about how to start the conversation about advance care planning with your loved ones.