What are Medical Advance Directives?
Advance Care Planning is about making decisions for the treatment you want if you become unable to speak for yourself. Advance Directives are the documents used to document medical treatment preferences.
Advance Directives are legal documents that inform medical professionals, family, friends, and others about your medical treatment choices in the event you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself. Advance Directives refer to a Living Will, Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA), Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Directive, Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST), and other directives concerning your medical care in the event you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself or you are at end-of-life.
Most people ages 18 and over should use the MDPOA and Living Will. These two documents tell health care providers whom you want to speak for you if cannot speak for yourself and what types of treatments you may or may not want in case of a future, unknown medical emergency. For people that do not want Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) they should talk to their doctor to complete a CPR Directive that tells doctors and other medical professional to not give CPR in case of a medical emergency. People that want CPR in case of an emergency do not have to take additional steps.
People with a serious life-limiting condition or who are really sick or very frail should consider having a Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) Form. A MOST Form is a doctor’s order and gives specific directions about medical treatment, including treatment of infections, CPR, and comfort care such as food and water.
You should review your advance directives at least annually to ensure they still meet your needs and preferences. Other major life events in which you should review your advance directives are in case of marriage, divorce, change in health condition or new diagnosis, or if you change your mind about your agent, representative, or choices. If you make changes to any advance directives, provide new copies to all the appropriate parties and ask them to destroy the previous copy.
Storage of Advance Directives
On May 16, 2019 the Colorado legislature passed into law bill SB19-173 to create a statewide electronic system for advance directives. The Department of Public Health and Environment (department) was allocated $1 million to set up the system. The department is required to contract with one or more health information organization networks for the creation, administration, and maintenance of a statewide electronic system that allows qualified providers to upload and access advance directives.
While the electronic statewide system for advance directives is under construction, we encourage everyone to continue to use paper copies and give copies of your advance directives to your agent, alternate agent(s), and doctor.
A tool to manage an individual's medical affairs, including making medical decisions. An MDPOA is given with the individual's consent while still capable.
What is an MDPOA?
A tool for an individual to lay out in advance their preferences for life-sustaining treatment, artificial nutrition and hydration when medically incapable of speaking for themselves.
What is a Living Will?
A tool to inform medical personnel to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in emergency and non-emergency situations.
What is a CPR Directive?
A tool whereby an individual can choose their broad wishes for care, particularly for those individuals who deal with multiple medical providers.
What is a MOST?
A tool for selecting a responsible person to make medical decisions for a person who is incapacitated and had no other arrangements in advance.
What is a Medical Health Care Proxy?
A tool for terminally ill individuals who are otherwise capable to choose end-of-life options in a time and place of their own preference.
What is Medical Aid in Dying?
A tool for individuals with mental or behavioral conditions to specify their preferences for treatment and medication, as well as for alternative therapies, and to record behavioral health history.