Advance Directives

Advance directive is a general term for your verbal and written wishes about your medical care in the future. These are only used if you are not able to speak for yourself. Each state has its own advance directives law(s). 

There are 2 types:

  • Living will
  • Durable power of attorney for health care

Though this is a hard topic to talk about, it is often helpful for you to have plans long before decisions need to be made. Make decisions and fill out these papers before you are very ill. This is a way to be sure your wishes are clear and followed. It also helps your family know your wishes.

People over 18 years of age, who will be admitted to UI Health Care will be asked if they have an advance directive that they wish to share with their health care providers. If you have one, bring a copy with you when you come to the hospital. As long as you can make your own decisions, your advance directives will not be used.  You can choose your medical treatment.

Living Will

A living will puts your wishes about medical care at the end of life into writing. Laws in each state define when a living will goes into effect and can limit the treatments that apply. A person's right to make choices about their treatment is protected by federal and state laws.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that lets you name a person you trust to make medical decisions for you if you cannot. In many states, this person can speak for you any time you are not able 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. You should talk with a legal expert when filling them out.

Honoring Your Wishes Honoring Your Wishes

Honoring Your Wishes advance care planning helps you and the person you wish to choose as your durable power of attorney for health care make informed decisions about health care preferences. These are based on your values and beliefs. A certified facilitator will help you. You will be able to take the Honoring Your Wishes document for Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care home with you.

Talk with your health care providers, family, and friends about your health care goals and how you would like them to help you meet these goals. 

UI Health Care has certified facilitators. Please ask your doctor or nurse to refer you to an advance care planning facilitator if you would like to learn more or if you have questions.

Visit the Honoring Your Wishes website.

Iowa Physicians Order for Scope of Treatment (IPOST)

An IPOST turns health care choices into medical orders, such as: 

  • Resuscitation—CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) or DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)
  • Scope of treatment—Comfort measures only, limited additional interventions, full treatment
  • Artificial treatment—feeding tube

The IPOST form is a medical order. It is meant for:

  • The frail and elderly
  • Adults and children with serious or terminal illnesses
  • Adults and children with chronic, critical medical conditions

Talk with your health care provider about:

  • What is important to you
  • Your goals of care
  • What medical care and treatment you want now, in a medical crisis, or if your health gets worse or gets better

Visit the IPOST website.