CLINICAL ETHICS CENTER at Memorial Medical Center

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Advance medical directives - you and your choices. Today you can choose your doctor, you can choose to have surgery or not and you can choose when you will receive medical treatment. But what happens if you are in a serious car accident that leaves you in a permanent coma with no chance of recovery or you had advanced Alzheimer's and could no longer make decisions for yourself? Who would make decisions about your medical treatment? Would your family and physicians know your wishes?

Advance directives make your wishes KNOWN! Advance directives are only used when you can no longer speak for yourself and make your own decisions about medical treatments. Advance directives are documents you fill out to ensure that your choices are respected. Advance directives are easy to fill out. You do not need an attorney. Your advance directive may be used to note specificto instructions regarding your choices, for example your choice about respirators (machines that pump air into your lungs when you can no longer breathe on your own), about feeding tubes and IVs (methods to feed or give fluids to you when you can no longer eat normally), about cardiopulmonary resuscitation - CPR (a method to restart your heart) and about comfort treatments (medications and care that can relieve pain and make you more comfortable). Advance directives can give you and your family peace of mind.

"Advance Directives" is a general term used to describe different ways of documenting your healthcare wishes. In Illinois, the four primary forms of Advance Directives forms are: a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, a Mental Health Treatment Declaration, and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Advance Directive. It is important to understand the purpose of each.

All of the advance directive forms are Adobe Acrobat files and require Adobe Acrobat Reader to open them. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, click here for a free downloadable Adobe Acrobat Reader copy.

Basic Questions and Answers about Advance Directives

Statement of Illinois Law on Advance Directives

The Clinical Ethics Center provides educational material on advance directives for healthcare professionals and the general public.  The Center has published a book on Advance Directives and Surrogate Decision Making in Illinois, and offers presentations/workshops on advance directives. 

For more information or for assistance in completing an advance directive, call 217-757-2353 or email Clinical Ethics Center.

Remember medical advance directives are only for making medical decisions, not for decisions about your property or money.


POLST Information
To find out more information regarding POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) in Illinois please visit the following websites:
Chicago End-of-Life Care Coalition


Questions or comments - email us at Clinical Ethics Center
Last Updated May 24, 2012
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