Deciding today for your health in the future…
Competent adults have the right to refuse or accept treatment after being informed of the procedure and the risks that follow. In addition, competent adults have the right to create written statements and legal documents to make their preferences of treatment known prior to needing the medical treatment. Lastly, competent adults can appoint a person to make medical decisions for them when they are unable. These legal documents you make to communicate your treatment preferences are called Advance Directives.
Primary Advance Directives in Iowa
The Primary Advanced Directives in the state of Iowa are a Living Will
and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
These are important personal health care decisions, which require very careful consideration. Talk to your medical provider about the effects of withholding or withdrawing treatments and also discuss your decisions with your family, friends, doctor, and health care providers and other advisers, spiritual or legal.
A Living Will is a document directing your physician certain life-sustaining procedures should be withheld or withdrawn if you are in a terminal condition or are unable to decide for yourself. The Living Will takes effect only when you have a terminal condition or unable to make decisions.
A life-sustaining procedure is any artificial means which sustains, restores, or supplants a vital body function such as breathing using a mechanical respirator. This only prolongs the dying process for a terminal patient.
A terminal condition is an irreversible condition that, without life-sustaining procedures, will result in death within a relatively short period of time or a state of permanent unconsciousness from which there is likely no recovery.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document through which you name another person known as your "attorney-in-fact" or "agent" to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. This agent is required to make decisions in the document unless your wishes are unknown; your agent shall make decisions in your best interest.
A Living Will applies only if it is your intention to have life-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn and you are in a terminal condition. This document will direct your physician.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care lets you name an agent who will make health care decisions in accordance with your wishes. If you wish, you may specify the health care treatments you do or do not want. Its application is not
restricted to patients with a terminal condition or to decisions about life-sustaining procedures.
Your agent should be someone that you trust and who has consented to act as your agent. However, the law does not allow your agent to be your doctor, nurse, or other person providing health care to you on the date you sign the document. No employee of the doctor, nurse, or any hospital or health care facility providing care to you on the date you sign the document unless that employee is a close relative.
Your agent can make any health care decision you can make regarding treatment of your physical or mental condition. In all cases, your agent must make decisions in accordance with your wishes. You can limit your agent's authority if you wish.
Can health care decisions be made on my behalf without a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?
Yes. IF you have not executed an Advance Directive and are unable to make decisions, others will make health care decisions for you, in consultation with your physician. These decision makers should be guided by your intentions. However, with a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, there is a greater chance your wishes will be carried out.
What if a physician is unwilling to comply with my Advance Directives?
If a physician, health care provider or administrator of a health care facility is unwilling to comply with you wishes stated in the Living Will or those made by an agent, they must take reasonable steps to arrange a transfer to another physician or facility willing to carry out your wishes.
Further information on Advance Directives may be found at the following websites:
If you would like more information or have questions, please contact our social worker at 319-863-3926