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Advanced Directives

If there’s ever a time when you can’t make medical decisions and speak for yourself, you can put legal documents in place that let doctors and other healthcare providers know what you want. St. Joseph Health recognizes that each person has the right to decide what kind of care they receive—and we take our responsibility to honor those desires very seriously.

Advance medical directives allow you to make your choices clear when it comes to medications, x-rays, lab tests, and life-prolonging treatments such as CPR if your heart stops beating, use of an artificial breathing machine for ventilation, use of an artificial kidney machine for dialysis, blood transfusions, or having artificial food or fluids administered through a tube.

Advance Medical Directives FAQ

What are Advance Directives?

Advanced directives are legal documents that allow you to tell your physician—or give someone else the authority to tell your physician—what kind of care you would like to receive if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Why are they important?

You have the right to accept or refuse medical care and to participate in the decisions regarding your care. These documents provide you with a reliable way to make your wishes known. Advance directives will be of great help to your doctors and to your loved ones should an event happen that prevents you from being able to communicate your decisions yourself.

Having an advance directive in place does not restrict your access to care, treatment or services. It simply gives you the ability to state your desires as to which services you want to receive in the event that you cannot make those decisions for yourself.

Having an advance directive in place does not restrict your access to care, treatment and services. It simply gives you the ability to state your desires as to which services you want to receive in the event that you cannot speak for yourself.

What Advance Directive Documents are available?

There are four types of advance directives that are recognized in the State of Texas:

  • Directive to Physician and Family or Surrogates – This is commonly referred to as a Living Will. This document is used when a person has a terminal or irreversible condition. It allows them to choose the kind of extraordinary care they would want at the end of life.
  • Medical Power of Attorney – This document allows you to specify a healthcare agent or surrogate decision maker to make medical treatment decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. This is more specific to only healthcare issues than a Durable Power of Attorney, which can include healthcare, financials and other matters. Both, however, are recognized by healthcare providers. The only difference is that a healthcare provider cannot assist or give advice in completing a Durable Power of Attorney.
  • Out of Hospital DNR – This document must be signed by your physician and allows a person to refuse specific life-sustaining treatments when they are outside of a hospital inpatient setting. This would include home, a skilled nursing facility or other outpatient area. This document MUST be with the person or be able to be presented to emergency personnel at the time the event occurs in order for the person not to be resuscitated or placed on life support.
  • Mental Health Treatment Declaration – This document allows a person to tell a hospital providing mental health services what kinds of mental health treatment the patient wants if the patient is incapacitated.

What Do I Do Next?

Complete the Forms. Download the forms provided on this website by clicking on the links above. Complete the forms according to your wishes and sign them in the presence of two witnesses.


All Advance Directive Forms must be witnessed or notarized when the person signs them. The witnesses must be competent adults and cannot be any of the following: the healthcare agent chosen to make a treatment decision, an individual related by blood or marriage, an individual entitled to any part of the person’s estate under a will; a caregiver; the attending physician or any of his staff or hospital employee.

Who Should Get a Copy?

Place the original(s) in a safe place. Make copies and give one to your primary care doctor. Bring a copy with you when you are admitted to any hospital. Give a copy to any person you name as your agent in the Medical Power of Attorney.

Don’t wait. The minutes you invest today will be a gift to your family.

It’s easy to put this off and never get around to it. By completing your advance directives documents you’ll be taking a tremendous weight off the shoulders of your loved ones, if the time ever comes when you can’t speak for yourself.









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