Because we live in the United States, we take it for granted that we are entitled to make decisions about our own health care. Most of the time we make these decisions after talking with our own physician about the advantages and disadvantages of various treatment options. The right of a competent individual to accept or refuse medical treatment is a fundamental right protected by law.
But what happens if a serious illness, injury, or permanent loss of mental capacity makes us incapable of talking to a doctor and deciding what medical treatments we do or do not want? These situations pose difficult questions to all of us as patients, family members, friends and healthcare professionals. Who makes these decisions if we cannot make them for ourselves? If we can't make our preferences known, how can we make sure that our wishes will be respected? If disagreements arise among those caring for us about different treatment alternatives how will they be resolved? Is there a way to alleviate the burdens shouldered by family members and loved ones when critical medical decisions must be made?
By using documents known as advance directives for healthcare, you can answer some of these questions and give yourself the security of knowing that you can continue to have a say in your own treatment. A properly prepared advance directive permits you to plan ahead so you can make your wishes known and select someone who will see to it that your wishes are followed.
It is Holy Name Medical Center's policy to follow advance directives that meet requirements under New Jersey Law. You are urged to bring your advance directive with you so that it may be photocopied and attached to your current medical record. We encourage our patients and their families to complete an advance directive should they not have one. If you would like an advance directive form, you can contact Pastoral Care at 201-833-3243.