Navigating the World of Healthcare Advance Directives, Part One


This is part one in a four-part series dedicated to an in-depth examination of advance directives: who is eligible to make an advance directive, what it is, how to create one, and what to do with the document after it is complete.

Who is eligible to make an advance directive?

Every competent person has the right to make decisions concerning his or her own healthcare, including the right to choose or refuse medical treatment. When a person becomes unable to make decisions due to a physical or mental change, such as being in a coma or developing dementia (like Alzheimer’s disease), he or she is considered incapacitated.

To make sure that an incapacitated person’s decision about healthcare will still be respected, the Florida legislature enacted legislation pertaining to healthcare advance directives. The law recognizes the right of a competent adult:

  • to make an advance directive instructing his or her physician to provide, withhold, or withdraw life-prolonging procedures;
  • to designate another individual to make treatment decisions if the person becomes unable to make his or her own decisions; and/or
  • to indicate the desire to make an anatomical donation after death.

Since anyone is eligible to make an advance directive, the next step is to better understand the document in question. This and more will be covered in August, during the second installment of this four-part series.

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