Advance Directives

You could be at home, on vacation, at work or at play and changes in your health may occur suddenly and without warning. Just as you like to plan important events in your life, you can plan the medical care you would want in a life-threatening situation.

These decisions are called Advance Directives. At Pocono Medical Center (PMC), we provide excellent patient care, and we respect your right to make decisions on your medical treatment.

For more information, click on one of the helpful links below.

What is an Advance Directive?
What are Some Types of Advance Directives?
What are Some Types of Medical Treatments that Can Be Included in an Advance Directive?
Who Can Make an Advance Directive? 
How Can I Make an Advance Directive?
What About My Spiritual Needs?
Advance Directives, the Law, and Pocono Medical Center
PMC Department of Pastoral Care Contact Information

What are Some Types of Advance Directives?
Life-saving treatments help restore you to your same quality of health before your illness. Life-sustaining treatments help delay death if you have an incurable illness. It is at this point when an Advance Directive would be needed.

Some types of Advance Directives are highlighted below.

  • A living will is a legal paper, in Pennsylvania, in which you state what kind of care you want if you are near death and cannot make or express your own decisions or you are in a permanent coma.
  • A durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions is a way to tell your healthcare providers who can make decisions about your healthcare if you cannot make these decisions for yourself. The person you choose is sometimes called your agent, proxy, or surrogate.
  • A healthcare declaration form is a document that includes a living will and the ability to name a surrogate decision-maker.

For your convenience and information, please click here for a printable healthcare declaration form.

You can choose to be an organ/tissue donor. Organ donation is a way for you to help save another life through transplant surgery after you die. There are approximately 25 different organs and tissues may be used, including heart, liver, kidneys, cartilage, and bond.

You, the patient, may indicate your decision to donate organs by having signed a donor card, by expressing your wishes, or by noting them on your Advance Directive or driver’s license.

Please note that in most cases, the patient's family decides at the time of the patient's death if organs will be donated. This makes it very important that you discuss your wishes with those closest to you so that they will understand your choices and be able to act on them.

Additional information is available through the Delaware Transplant Program at 1-800-543-6391.

For more assistance regarding advance directives while you are a patient at PMC, please ask your physician, nurse, case manager, or chaplain.

What are Some Types of Medical Treatments that Can Be Included in an Advance Directive?
Some types of medical treatment that can be included in an advance directive are explained below. These definitions may help you as you make your choices:

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) CPR includes artificial breathing; chest compressions; and medication and electrical shocks to the heart that are used to restore stopped heartbeat and/or breathing.
  • Defibrillation An electric shock given to the heart to return it to a normal beat.
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) A doctor's order that tells healthcare givers that you have chosen not to receive CPR.
  • RespiratorsMachines used to assist or to keep you breathing when you can no longer do so on your own.
  • Feeding TubesTubes inserted through the nose, mouth, or directly into the stomach to feed you when you are no longer able to eat.
  • Intravenous Therapy (IV Therapy) Provides nutrition and water and/or medication through a thin tube placed in a vein.
  • Kidney DialysisA method to clean the blood of waste and fluid when the kidneys no longer work properly.
  • MedicationsEmergency drugs given to restore or maintain a steady heartbeat or blood pressure during a crisis and/or antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Permanently UnconsciousWhen you are in a coma and are not expected to recover.

Who Can Make an Advance Directive?
In Pennsylvania, you can make an Advance Directive if you are of sound mind and are at least one of the following:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • A high school graduate
  • Married

How Can I Make an Advance Directive?
PMC's case managers and chaplains are available to assist you with your Advance Directive needs. Understandably, many patients need information, emotional support, and assistance as they are making decisions about Advance Directives. We are here for you, and can provide additional information, counseling, and any forms you may need.

What About My Spiritual Needs?
PMC understands that your religious viewpoint may make a difference in your decisions about Advance Directives, and understands that your spiritual needs cannot be overlooked while you are seriously ill.

For many patients, talking with members of the clergy can help them think through their choices.

PMC encourages you and your family to talk with your own spiritual advisor or one of the PMC chaplains if you need help making health care choices.

Some issues to consider are what life-sustaining treatments can and cannot do. Take some time to think about the degree of recovery that you can expect from these treatments and what will be the quality of your life.

It is important to consider what is important to you while you are healthy, and your beliefs play an important part in the way you think about life and death.

Advance Directives, the Law, and Pocono Medical Center
Federal law requires that upon admission to a health care facility a patient be advised of the facility's policies regarding advance directives. An advance directive is a written instruction in which an individual indicates his or her own preference regarding life-sustaining medical treatment in the event he or she becomes terminally ill or permanently unconscious. Common forms of advance directives are living wills and durable powers-of-attorney for health care.

Shortly after admission to Pocono Medical Center (PMC), you will be asked whether or not you have executed an advance directive, which would indicate to PMC your wishes with regard to the provision of life-sustaining treatment. If you do have an advance directive, you will be requested to supply a copy to PMC so that it may be placed on your medical record. If you do not have an advance directive, you will be asked whether you would like more information in this regard. If more information is requested, PMC will contact appropriate personnel who will discuss advance directives with you. You are not required to have an advance directive to be treated at PMC.

An advance directive becomes effective when a copy of the advance directive is placed on the medical record; when the attending physician determines that the patient is in a state of permanent unconsciousness or that the patient is in a terminal condition and incompetent; when the attending physician's determinations are confirmed by a second physician and the determinations of both physicians are placed on the medical record; and when the attending physician enters into the medical record an order directing patient care in accordance with the guidelines of the advance directive.

The absence of an advance directive shall not give rise to any presumption as to the intent of the patient to refuse or not to refuse the initiation, continuation, or termination of life-sustaining treatment. An advance directive may be revoked by the patient at any time-either in writing or verbally.

If you presently have an advance directive, or execute one subsequent to your admission to PMC, you should discuss the advance directive with your physician to ensure that he or she will comply with your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment. If your physician cannot comply with your advance directive, he or she is required to assist in transferring you to a physician who will comply with the advance directive.

If you have questions regarding the above information or the policies of PMC with regard to advance directives during your admission, please request that you be permitted to speak with your physician, nurse, case manager, patient relations representative, or chaplain.

For more information, please contact the Pocono Health System's Department of Pastoral Care at (570) 476-3329 or Department of Case Management at (570) 476-3436

If you have questions about the Pennsylvania state law regarding Advance Directives and how PMC carries them out, you may contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health at (717) 783-8980

layout graphic