Advanced Health Directive
An Advanced Health Directive (AHD) is a way for you to formally give your instructions in relation to your future health and medical care. An AHD will only be used in circumstances where you cannot make decisions for yourself due to ill health.
If you reach a point where you are unable to make decisions for yourself then you are clearly unable to communicate your wishes to those around you in relation to things such as types of medical treatment you do or don’t want to receive. Therefore it is sensible to formally record these things now when you are able to.
We advise all clients to make an AHD while they are fit and healthy, however we especially recommend it in circumstances where you are about to go into hospital for a procedure or you have been diagnosed with an illness that has the potential to affect your ability to make decisions for themselves.
Making an AHD is very simple; it involves completing a form that states what type of medical treatment you consent to.
You may be as specific or general as you like, for example you can give general instructions such as:
- Stating any types of treatment that you do or do not consent to having (for example for religious reasons); and
- Listing any conditions that you suffer from such as allergies or diabetes.
Or you can give more specific instructions in relation to things such as:
- Treatment you do or do not wish to receive if you have a terminal or incurable illness; or
- Treatment you do or do not wish to receive in the event you are on life support or have suffered a serious brain injury.
You may specify in your AHD what particular action you would wish for your treating doctor to take such as CPR, artificial feeding or connection to a life support machine.
We then provide a copy of your AHD to your GP, who will make it available for any medical staff who treat you in the future should circumstances arise where you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Your GP will confirm with you what your AHD is saying and will confirm that you understand what you are signing and that you are of right mind to do so.
An advanced health directive is important to have in addition to an Enduring Power of Attorney as your attorney does not have the power to make decisions about specific things such as participation in experimental treatments, termination of pregnancy, or organ and tissue donation. Only you can specify your wishes in relation to these things in your AHD.
AHD’s are not for everyone and Enduring Power of Attorney can sort some of these issues for you, but if you feel somewhat concerned about your future medical care and would like to avoid your family making difficult medical decisions on your behalf then an AHD is a good way to create some certainty in relation to these matters.
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