IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA, all competent adults have the right to be informed about their medical treatment and to refuse that treatment for any reason. Sometimes this can be confusing, especially while you are a hospital patient or are in need of medical care. The best way to be sure your voice is heard in a medical setting is to write down your wishes in advance.
As of July 1, 2007, Georgia law changed and we now have one document called the “Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare." This new format combines the old Georgia Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare into one comprehensive document. The old forms are still valid and will still be accepted as the patient’s legal wishes.
The new GEORGIA ADVANCE DIRECTIVE FOR HEALTHCARE has four parts:
PART ONE—Health Care Agent. This part allows you to choose someone to make health care decisions for you when you cannot (or do not want to) make health care decisions for yourself. The person you choose is called a health care agent. You may also have your health care agent make decisions for you after your death with respect to an autopsy, organ donation, body donation, and final disposition of your body. You should talk to your health care agent about this important role.
PART TWO—Treatment Preferences. This part allows you to state your treatment preferences if you have a terminal condition or if you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness.
PART TWO will become effective only if you are unable to communicate your treatment preferences. Reasonable and appropriate efforts will be made to communicate with you about your treatment preferences before PART TWO becomes effective. You should talk to your family and others close to you about your treatment preferences.
PART THREE—Guardianship. This part allows you to nominate a person to be your guardian should one ever be needed.
PART FOUR—Effectiveness and Signatures. This part requires your signature and the signatures of two witnesses. You must complete PART FOUR if you have filled out any other part of this form.
DEKALB MEDICAL will provide you with copies of this document and assistance in completing the forms, if you wish.
You can also obtain get these documents on the hospital’s internet site (www.dekalbmedical.org) or from your physician's office and we encourage you to talk with your doctor about your wishes for end of life care. It is also advisable to give your doctor a copy of the Advance Directive when you have completed one of the forms.
If you are currently a patient at DeKalb Medical, please contact the Case Management Department at 404.501.5669 and ask for a visit from the social worker assigned to your room.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER ABOUT ADVANCE DIRECTIVES:
- A patient must be a fully competent adult to complete an Advance Directive.
- These documents are only in effect if you are not able to express your own thoughts and wishes about treatment issues.
- Advance Directives only cover healthcare decisions and have nothing to do with your financial affairs.
- You can change your mind at any time, by completing a new form, or telling someone that you have different wishes.
- You do not need a lawyer to complete the forms and they do not have to be notarized.
- You will need two competent adults to witness these forms and the witnesses can not be members of your family. By law, hospital employees can act as one of your witnesses but the other must be an objective third party.