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Guide to Medical Decisions


Plan Ahead for Important Health Care Decisions

Advance Directives: Make Your Wishes Known

Advance directives are documents which indicate your choices for future health care. The purpose of advance directives is to give you more control over your medical care, ensuring that physicians and family members have no doubt about how much life-prolonging technology you would want. There are three kinds of advance directives:

  • Living Will,
  • Durable Power of Attorney, and
  • Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST).

Download an Advance Directive packet that can help you make decisions about your health care.

Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document which describes your preferences for life-sustaining treatment. A Living Will in Idaho allows you to specify one of the following options should you become terminally ill and unable to communicate your wishes:

  1. You want the doctors to do everything possible to keep you alive,
  2. You want to die a natural death, but you want to be given food, water and comfort measures, or
  3. You want to die a natural death, and you do not want to be given food or water by artificial means, but you will not be denied comfort measures.

The Living Will takes effect ONLY if your physician believes you are permanently unconscious or that death is near, AND you are unable to tell others your wishes. You may cancel your Living Will at any time, as long as you are of sound mind. A Living Will requires two witnesses to your signature, but does not have to be notarized.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document that designates an individual to be your health care agent (or surrogate) to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself. Decisions may include health care providers, medical treatment, and end-of-life decisions. The individual you select as your health care agent should be someone who understands the kind of medical treatment you do and do not want. You may cancel your Durable Power of Attorney and make a new one.

A Durable Power of Attorney goes in effect ONLY if you are unable to make your own health care decisions. A Durable Power of Attorney does not have to be notarized, but there are restrictions on who can serve as your health care agent, as well as who can witness the document.

Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST)

A POST is a written physician’s order that must be followed by all health care providers. It must be signed by a physician and is only appropriate in cases where death is reasonably anticipated to occur relatively soon.

Notice of Privacy Practices Learn how you can access your medical information and how this information may be disclosed.