All adults have the right to make decisions about their medical care, including the right to refuse any life-sustaining treatment or procedure. These personal decisions are put into writing through documents known as "advance directives." An advance directive can be in the form of a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a Living Will, or a Comfort One declaration.
If you have an advance directive, please give a copy of the completed form to your physician or nurse to include in your medical record.
Advance directive forms are available to download below:
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
- You choose someone (your agent) to make decisions for you if you are ever unable to do so.
- You express your desires concerning treatment choices for your agent to follow.
- Includes all health care decisions, including withholding or withdrawing medical treatment.
- Applies whenever you are unable to speak for yourself.
- Can be flexible due to changing circumstances.
- Easily revoked at any time--orally or in writing to your physician or health care provider.
- Your decisions are in writing only.
- There is no agent to make decisions for you.
- You provide instructions to your physician.
- Refers only to withholding or withdrawing medical treatment.
- Applies only when your physician determines that you are in a terminal condition and are unable to make treatment choices.
- Is not flexible and may not cover every possible condition.
- Is easily revoked at any time--orally or in writing to your physician or health care provider.
Comfort One is a mechanism for emergency medical personnel to honor your wishes outside the hospital arena. To qualify:
- You must have a terminal illness and already have declared your wishes via a Durable Power of Attorney or Living Will.
- A physician must complete special forms which are kept on file with the Rhode Island Department of Health.
- An orange Comfort One bracelet & identification number are issued to you, which alerts emergency medical personnel to provide only supportive care--no resuscitative measures.
- Easily revoked at any time--orally or in writing to your physician or health care provider or by removing/destroying the bracelet.
What is a terminal condition?
A terminal condition is defined as an incurable or irreversible condition that, in a doctor's opinion, would result in death in a relatively short time without the use of life-sustaining procedures.
What is a life-sustaining procedure?
A life-sustaining procedure is any medical treatment that prolongs the dying process, does not include comfort care or alleviating pain. Examples include:
- Artificial nutrition & hydration: A method of delivering food and water to a person who cannot eat or drink. A person may be fed through a tube--intravenously, through his nose or mouth--or directly into his stomach.
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): A medical procedure that involves forceful pressure on the chest, electric shock and special drugs to try to restore a heart beat.
- Ventilator: A machine that helps you breathe if you cannot do so naturally.