WHAT IS AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?
An Oregon advance directive is the means by which you can designate your health care representative and leave important instructions to your physician about when to use life-saving means to prolong your life. For most people, the advance directive is an important and carefully thought out part of their estate plans. The advance directive in its current form replaces older versions of two separate Oregon documents, the “power of attorney for health care” and the “directive to physicians.”
The advance directive is broken into 5 parts, A through E. Part A instructs you about how to complete the form and what the form means. Part B allows you to designate a health care representative, and Part C allows you to give instructions to health care providers. Part D is for your witnesses to sign and Part E requires your health care representative to accept the role to which you have appointed them.
WHO CAN BE MY HEALTH CARE REPRESENTATIVE?
You may not appoint your doctor, an employee of your doctor, or an owner, operator or employee of your health care facility, unless that person is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption or that person was appointed before your admission into the health care facility.
WHAT DECISIONS CAN MY HEALTH CARE REPRESENTATIVE MAKE FOR ME?
This is entirely up to you. You get to choose under what conditions your health care representative can make decisions for you, and you may add specific limitations to the your advance directive form. The Oregon advance directive form has specific boxes you must check allowing your representative to decide about tube feeding and life support.
WHAT ARE MY HEALTH CARE INSTRUCTIONS ?
Part C allows you to leave instructions for your health care provider under the following circumstances: when you are close to death, permanently unconscious, advanced progressive illness, extraordinary suffering and a general instruction not to be prolonged by life support in any of the above circumstances.
DO I HAVE TO FILL OUT PARTS B & C?
No. You may fill out one or the other.
ARE PARTS B & C REDUNDANT?
No. Appointing a health care representative allows someone you trust to make important health care decisions for you. Part C leaves instructions for the doctors who are actually treating you. There may very well be an emergency situation that arises when your health care representative is not available to make decisions for you. In those cases, if your physician, hospital ER, or other treatment provider has instructions on file, they can still follow your wishes.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM A GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY?
An advance directive is NOT the same thing as a general power of attorney, which is one reason we don’t like using the term health care power of attorney. It can get a little confusing. A general power of attorney is used to designate an agent to manage your financial affairs, and can be as broad or limited as you decide. An advance directive in Oregon means someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in the circumstances described in the form.
WHO CAN MAKE AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?
Any capable adult can make an advance directive in Oregon. Your advance directive becomes effective as soon as you sign it.
HOW DO I MAKE AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?
Just fill out the form, sign it, and make sure you have two witnesses. Your health care representative also must accept this role by signing the advance directive form. Because Oregon law requires an advance directive to be in substantially the same form laid out in the statue, you should not try to create your own form. INSERT LINK TO FORM
WHO CAN BE MY WITNESSES?
There are some limitations on who may be your witnesses. One witness must not be your relative by blood, marriage or adoption.That witness must also not be an heir who would be entitled to any part of your estate and not own, operate or be employed at a health care facility where you are a patient or resident. These limitations are in place to limit both the appearance of, and actual conflicts of interest in making your most important health-care decisions. If you are a patient in a long term care facility when you make your advance directive, one witness must be the person your facility has designated and that person must have any qualifications that Department of Human Services rules require.
CAN THE PHYSICIAN SUPERSEDE MY HEALTH CARE REPRESENTATIVE’S INSTRUCTIONS?
Not unless that is your wish. Your health care representative speaks for you to carry out your wishes. If your physician does not respect and carry out those wishes, your representative may (and probably should) transfer you to a physician and facility that will follow your representative’s instructions to follow your wishes. However, you may also designate in your form that you want your health care representative to follow your doctor’s recommendations in certain circumstances.
DO I NEED AN LAWYER?
No, the advance directive is essentially a uniform document, and it does not need to be specially prepared by an attorney. We always counsel our clients to think about their advance directives as part of their estate, and try our best to counsel and educate them about the law and how their most sensitive health care wishes will be carried out. The forms are available at most hospitals and long term care facilities, and we have provided a link to download the form by following this link: Download your Oregon advance directive form.