Many people worry about the health care they would get if they were not able to make their own choices. The Patient Self-Determination Act, health care under Florida Law, lets you make choices about your health care. Some of your rights are to accept or refuse health or surgical care and the right to have an advanced directive.
Your Right to Decide
There may be times when you cannot make choices about your health care. You can then have somebody make these choices for you. You can do this using an advanced directive.
What is an Advanced Directive?
An advanced directive is a written or oral statement made by you. They are made in case of illness or injury. They tell your health care providers and family what care and life -support measures to take if you cannot. You may also pick a person to make health care choices for you if you become mentally or physically unable to make your own choices. An advanced directive may be in the form of a Living Will, a Healthcare Surrogate Designation, or both.
What is a living will?
A Living Will tells the kind of medical care you want or do not want. These are in case you become unable to make your own choices. It is called a Living Will because it takes effect while you are still living. Florida law provides a suggested form for a living will. We have built in copy of this form here. You may use it or use some other form. You may also wish to speak to a lawyer or doctor to make sure that you have finished the Living Will rightly so that your wishes will be understood.
What is a healthcare surrogate?
A Healthcare Surrogate Designation is a signed, dated and witnessed paper. It says another person can make health care choices for you. This is in case you cannot make them for yourself. You may also name a second person if your first choice is not available. You can include details about any treatment care you want or do not want. Florida law also provides a form you can use for designation of a healthcare surrogate. We have built in a copy of this form here [link to pdf]. You may use it or some other form. You may also wish to speak to a lawyer or doctor. This is to make sure that you have finished the Healthcare Surrogate Designation right. You want to make sure that your wishes will be clear.
Which form is better?
A Living Will and Healthcare Surrogate Designation are two unique, yet alike forms. You can have two forms. Also, you can combine them into one form. Which form of advanced directive you use is your choice. You can change your mind or cancel it at any time. The only time an advanced directive may be used is when you cannot make healthcare choices for yourself. Once you are able to make these choices on your own again, the advanced directive will not be in effect. Your advanced directive will remain on ‘stand-by’. If you ever become disabled again and cannot make health care choices for yourself, your advanced directive will come into effect.
Is an Advanced Directive required under Florida Law?
No. You are not required to have an advanced directive and you cannot be denied care if you do not have one.
What should I do with my Advanced Directive?
Make sure that someone knows that you have an advanced directive and where it is kept. You may also want to think about the following:
- If you have a healthcare surrogate. Give a copy of form or the original to the person(s) you have named.
- Give a copy of your advanced directive to your doctor for your lhealth health file.
- Keep a copy of your advanced directive in a place where it can be found.
- Keep a card or note in your purse or wallet. It should state that you have an advanced directive and where it can be found.
- If you change your advance directive, make sure your doctor, lawyer and/or family member has the latest copy
If your directive is not being followed, you can call the state’s complaint line at 1-888-419-3456.
Your primary care doctor must teach you about advanced directives. They should detail this in your health record. You can also download more info about advance directives by going to the Agency for Health Care Administration web site at www.floridahealthfinder.gov/reports-guides/advance-directives.aspx. (Please note: By clicking on the links, you will be leaving Sunshine Health's website.)