Having Your Say

It’s never too early to make your health care preferences known. Outpatient palliative care nurse Laurie Luellen, R.N., explains the importance of advance directives.

What is an advance directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that states a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment. This includes assigning someone as the person’s medical power of attorney and a living will that outlines what specific measures you would want taken if you are unable to make medical decisions.

Why are advance directives important?
Advance directives are for a time when you are unable to speak for yourself to express your preference for medical treatment. Through this legal document, you are able to state your wishes and what is important to you, such as being free of pain, your treatment preferences and whom you would like to speak on your behalf about your medical care if you are unable. It takes the stress, guesswork and guilt away from your loved ones because they have instructions that tell them exactly what you want. Having an advance directive is the best gift an individual could give to his or her loved ones.

Who should complete an advance directive?
Anyone 18 years old or older should complete an advance directive, regardless of their current medical status.

What do you do with it once it is complete?
Once you have completed your advance directive, you should give a copy to your primary care provider as well as your local hospital. You should communicate your wishes to the person you have chosen as your medical power of attorney and give them a copy of the document as well.

Where can individuals learn more about advance directives?
Additional information about advance directives can be found online on the Maryland Attorney General’s website at marylandattorneygeneral.gov, at caringinfo.org or by consulting your local attorney. Advance directive forms also are available online at CarrollHospitalCenter.org/patient-forms.

Need help filling out an advance directive?
Call Care Connect at 410-871-7000 and ask to speak to a member of the palliative care team.

From the spring 2019 issue of A Healthy Dose, Carroll Hospital’s community magazine

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