As a competent adult, you have the right to decide to accept or refuse any medical treatment. “Competent” means you understand your condition and the results your decision may have. As long as you are competent, you are the only person who can decide what medical treatment you want and do not want to receive. Your doctors will give you information and advice about the pros and cons of different kinds of treatment, but only you can choose whether to say “yes” or “no”. You can say “no” even if the treatment you refuse might keep you alive longer and even if your doctor or your family wants you to have it.
Someday, you may become too sick to make your own decisions about your medical care. If that happens, then decisions will have to be made for you. If you have not given any instructions (in the form of an advance directive), no one will know what you would have decided.
Many people have strong feelings about the kind of medical care they would like to receive or refuse in certain cases. Advance directives are documents that allow you to clearly state your feelings. These choices can be changed or cancelled at any time. It is a good idea to review your advance directive each year to be sure it still says how you want to be treated. The forms also include a place to state your wishes about organ and tissue donation upon your death. This is a special way for you to help save someone else’s life through transplant surgery after your death.
You are not required by law to have these decisions written out. You can make your wishes known by talking with your family or doctor or by writing them down, but unless you have a document called “durable power of attorney for health care” (one of the types of advance directives), your chosen spokesperson does not have legal authority to act for you.
There are two kinds of Advance Directives allowed under Washington State law:
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – This names another person who will make medical decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. You can pick a family member, friend or any other person you trust, but be sure the person you choose is willing to serve.
- Health Care Directive to Physicians (Living Will) – This is a statement that you want to die naturally and don’t wish to have medical treatments that will extend your life.
To obtain an Advance Directive form click here. Or you can get sample forms from your Primary Care Physician, or at any hospital admitting office.
If you are not happy with CUP’s information about advance directives you have the right to file a grievance with CUP. You also have the right to file a grievance with Health Care Authority if you feel CUP’s advance directive information does not meet state and federal laws. You can contact CUP to file a grievance if you feel your advance directive wishes are not being met by your provider.
Informed Consent Informed consent is a legal requirment in the State of Washington and requires providers to get written consent from the member or their guardian before treatment, to comply with the Natural Death Act, and Medicaid rules regarding advance directives and information on the right to make anatomical gifts.
In non-emergent situations, written informed consent is required prior to medical procedures. the provider is to explain to the member the diagnosis, the details of the procedure, risks involved, and any different treatment methods available. Written permission is to be given by either the member or the person legally authorized to consent on their behalf.
You may reference CUP's policies on advance directives and informed consent here.