Advance Directives

Advance directive is a general term that refers to your verbal and written instructions about your medical care in the future, should you be unable to speak for yourself. Each state has its own law governing the use of advance directives. There are two types of advance directives: living will and durable power of attorney for health care.

Though this is a difficult topic to discuss, it is often helpful for you to make plans long before decisions need to be made. Making these arrangements and decisions before you are very ill can insure that your wishes are clear and followed. It also helps family members when they know your wishes in advance.

Adult patients, over 18 years of age, who will be admitted for an overnight stay at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics can anticipate being asked if they have an advance directive that they wish to let their health care providers know about. If you have an advance directive, you should bring a copy of it with you when you come to the hospital. As long as you are able to communicate your own decisions, your advance directives will not be used and you can accept or reject any medical treatment.

Living Will

A living will puts your wishes about medical care at the end of life into a written statement. Each state dictates when a living will goes into effect and can limit the treatments to which the living will applies. A person's right to accept or reject treatment is protected by both federal and state laws.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make medical decisions for you. In many states, the person you appoint through a durable power of attorney for health care is authorized to speak for you anytime you are unable to make you own medical decisions, not only at the end of life.

Forms to establish advance directives from the Iowa State Bar Association:

NOTE: These are legal forms and it is suggested that you consult with your legal representative to complete.

Honoring Your Wishes Honoring Your Wishes

The Honoring Your Wishes advance care planning process allows you and the person you wish to select as your durable power of attorney for healthcare the opportunity to make informed decisions about healthcare preferences based upon your personal values and beliefs with the support of a certified facilitator. You are encouraged to have discussions with your healthcare providers, family, and friends regarding healthcare goals and interventions. You will have the opportunity to complete the Honoring Your Wishes document that identifies your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and provides further instruction regarding future healthcare choices. UI Hospitals & Clinics has multiple certified facilitators available to assist you with the completion of this document. Please ask your doctor or nurse to make a referral to an advance care planning facilitator if you are interested in starting the conversation or if you have more questions.

Visit the Honoring Your Wishes website

Iowa Physicians Order for Scope of Treatment (IPOST)

This is a document that was developed to allow you an opportunity to communicate your wishes for life-sustaining treatments, including resuscitation, scope of treatment, artificial treatment, and more. This is a document that is appropriate when you are an individual who is frail and elderly or if you have a terminal illness. Please ask your physician if this document is appropriate for you.

Visit the IPOST website