Advance Directives

Patient Self-Determination Rights

The purpose of this information is to inform you about your right to make decisions concerning your medical care, including the right to accept or refuse medical and surgical treatment, and to prepare advance directives.

If you are a competent adult (a person who is 18 years or older) or an emancipated minor (a minor who is married or the parent of a child), you have the right to accept or reject medical/surgical treatment. This right exists as long as you have a sufficient understanding to make and communicate responsible decisions about your medical/surgical treatment. MedStar Montgomery Medical Center respects the importance of this right and is committed to ensuring that its patients have the opportunity to exercise this right in an informed, considered way.

How You May Make Medical/Surgical Treatment Decisions

You may communicate decisions concerning medical/surgical treatment in the following ways:

  • Discussions between you and your physician during which you can express to your physician your preferences regarding treatment in various situations;
  • Written consents which you have the option to sign, or not to sign, after consultation with your physician; and
  • Advanced directives  including treatment preferences; appointment of a Healthcare Agent and Healthcare Instructions, which will be discussed shortly.

Maryland Law Regarding Medical/Surgical Treatment Decisions

Under the law of the State of Maryland, an individual who is able to make and communicate responsible healthcare decisions generally has the right to decide whether to accept or to reject medical/ surgical treatment. On occasion, a person may lack the ability to make medical treatment decisions for him or herself. Maryland law recognizes that, as long as you are able to make such decisions, you may give instructions concerning your future medical care and treatment, including decisions about treatments to sustain life.

Explaining Advance Directives Generally

Advance directives allow you to retain control over the medical treatment to be received if and when you become unable to make or communicate healthcare decisions at some point in the future. Advance directives are important to ensuring that your wishes will be respected in the future. The fact that advance directives take into consideration matters relating to life-sustaining treatment should not be cause for alarm. Like other healthcare decisions, the choice of whether to sign an advance directive is up to each individual. An advance directive can be changed or revoked at any time. In no way does MedStar Montgomery Medical Center condition the provision of care, or otherwise discriminate against anyone, based on whether or not an advance directive has been executed. You should not feel any pressure to sign an advance directive.

Appointment of a Healthcare Agent

An appointment of a Healthcare Agent is looked to if and when you are no longer able to make or communicate healthcare decisions, whatever your condition. The appointment of a Healthcare Agent allows you to name another person, usually a family member or someone close, to make medical decisions if you become unable to make them for yourself.

Treatment Preferences (Living Will)

Treatment Preferences contain, at minimum, written instructions that state your wishes about the use of life-sustaining measures, should you be unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, and are suffering from a terminal condition, are in a persistent vegetative state or have an end-stage condition.

If you decide to have advance directives, it is generally most useful to appoint a Healthcare Agent and prepare a Treatment Preference Form.

Additional General Information

If you decide to complete any of these advance directives, please be certain to sign and date each document and have it witnessed by two individuals. Your Healthcare Agent may not act as a witness and at least one witness should not have any direct involvement in matters related to your financial affairs or your estate. You should advise family, friends and advisors where they may locate copies of any advance directive that you sign.

Please bring a copy of each executed advance directive with you if you are being hospitalized. A copy of your advance directives will become a part of your medical record so that those involved with your care will be aware of your wishes.

The information provided here is a general summary of your rights to make medical treatment decisions in Maryland and is disseminated by MedStar Montgomery Medical Center pursuant to the Federal Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990 and the Maryland Healthcare Decision Act of 1993. Specific questions concerning legal rights or options should be addressed to your attorney and/ or physician.

Organ and Tissue Donations

Gifts of organs and tissues can help sustain or improve the quality of life for many persons. In compliance with the requirements of federal and state law, we will ask if you have designated organs and/ or tissues for donation. Please inform the admissions counselor if you have made such arrangements or wish to do so.

Learn more about Advance Directives

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