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Health Care Advance Directive

A health care advance directive is a legally-binding document that outlines your wishes about medical care. For instance, if you end up in a coma, an advance directive tells doctors whether you want life support including the use of a ventilator and tube feeding. Directives can give permission for or deny treatment depending on just how sick you are and whether you are unlikely to recover.

 

An advance directive usually includes the appointment of a health care representative. The directive details what authority you give your representative regarding your medical care including in what circumstances the person can make decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your own wishes. Click here to learn more about health care representatives.

Requirements

  • In Oregon, an official form must be used for the advance directive. It must be signed in front of two qualified witnesses. The witnesses cannot be the representative or the attending physician. One of the witnesses must not be a blood relative, a prospective heir or beneficiary, or an owner or employee of a health care facility where the person is a patient or resident. The primary and alternate (if any) health care representatives must also sign the form accepting the appointment.

  • The advance directive is effective upon proper signing, but a health care representative is only allowed to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are incapable of making them yourself. Oregon law considers a person incapable only when the attending physician or a court declares the person is unable to make and communicate his or her own health care decisions.

  • You can revoke your advance directive at any time. To do so, you must notify your health care representative and your health care provider of the revocation. Unless you provide a specific expiration date on the advance directive, it is in effect until death or it is revoked.

What Happens if I Don't Have a Directive?

  • In Oregon, an official form must be used for the advance directive. It must be signed in front of two qualified witnesses. The witnesses cannot be the representative or the attending physician. One of the witnesses must not be a blood relative, a prospective heir or beneficiary, or an owner or employee of a health care facility where the person is a patient or resident. The primary and alternate (if any) health care representatives must also sign the form accepting the appointment.

  • The advance directive is effective upon proper signing, but a health care representative is only allowed to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are incapable of making them yourself. Oregon law considers a person incapable only when the attending physician or a court declares the person is unable to make and communicate his or her own health care decisions.

  • You can revoke your advance directive at any time. To do so, you must notify your health care representative and your health care provider of the revocation. Unless you provide a specific expiration date on the advance directive, it is in effect until death or it is revoked.

What Do I Do with my Advance Directive?

You should keep the document in a safe place and give a copy to your health care representative as well as your personal physician. You may also want to give a copy to other family members or your clergy.