What is an Advanced Health Directive and should I have one?
An Advanced Health Directive (AHD) clearly states what sort of medical treatment you do and do not want to receive if you are seriously ill and comes into effect when you are unable to make your own decisions. You may also set out preferences about organ donation and life sustaining medical treatment.
How an AHD works:
- You will out a form with general or specific wishes for treatment; and
- Your General Practitioner certifies that you understand the choices you have made; and
- Treating medical staff will subsequently refer to your AHD if you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
When entering into an AHD, you should consider:
1. That you may express wishes in a general way:
- Any particular type of medical treatment you do or do not want to receive;
- Specifics regarding medical conditions that medical staff should know, for example an allergy to certain medications, or Diabetes; and
- any religious beliefs that may affect your treatment, such as blood transfusions.
2. That you may also give specific instructions about what treatment you do or do not want to receive if:
- you have a terminal illness;
- you have an incurable illness;
- you have an irreversible condition;
- you are permanently unconscious; or
- you are so seriously ill or injured that you cannot survive without a life support system.
3. That you may state whether you would want any particular type of medical intervention to keep you alive, if you had any of the above conditions. Such interventions may include:
- emergency measures such as CPR;
- artificial feeding; and
- a machine to keep you breathing.
You may authorise your Attorney/s to make decisions about health matters should your directions in your AHD be inadequate.
If you wish to donate your organs only for transplantation and not for scientific purposes, you should register your name on the Australian Organ Donor Register. You may use your AHD to authorise tissue and organ donations for the purpose of transplantation or for other medical or scientific purposes.
Further details with respect to Powers of Attorney or Advanced Health Directives may be obtained by contacting one of our lawyers, who can offer practical legal advice and guidance, ensuring that your wishes are looked after.
This information is provided as a general guide only and should not be used or relied upon by any person without obtaining legal advice in relation to their own circumstances.