Advance Care Planning
Planning in Advance for Future Health Care Choices
As a capable adult, you have many rights when you receive health care. You have the right to be told about your medical choices and their benefits and risks. You also have the right to accept or refuse these choices. Whatever you decide, it is important to talk about your decisions with your physicians, other health professionals and those close to you. You may also put your plans for future medical care in writing, in case you become unable to make your own decisions.
Honoring Choices® Virginia is an effort of the Richmond Academy of Medicine and the area's health care systems to encourage families and communities to have discussions regarding end-of-life care choices.
VCU Medical Center is supporting Honoring Choices® Virginia with efforts to provide free health care planning information and tools to help you exercise your right to make a health care plan and receive the best possible care that honors your values and choices.
The goal is to make advance care planning available to all patients, thereby allowing them to make their wishes known to family members and - just as importantly - to their health care providers.
Advance Care Planning
Advance care planning is a process for you to: understand possible, future health choices; reflect on these choices in light of the values and goals important to you; discuss your choices with those close to you and the health professionals who care for you; and make a plan for future health care situations.
Start Planning Now
This process may only take a short period of time or it may take many months. What is most important is that you begin now and take the time you need to understand, reflect, discuss, and make a plan that will work best for you and those closest to you.
An advance directive is the plan you make for future health care. In this plan you may: simply provide instructions about the choices you would prefer for future health care, or you may also appoint another person or persons who would make your health care decisions if you were unable to make them yourself.
Your advance directive may be a formal, legal document or you may choose to communicate your choices more informally in a letter or by simply talking. In many circumstances, however, a formal, legal document that clearly reflects your goals and values may be the best way to ensure that your choices can be followed in the future.
Making an advance directive is optional and the health care you receive will not be affected if you decide against making one. As long as you are capable, you may change or revoke your advance directive at any time.
Click here to download a PDF of the Virginia Advance Directive for Health Care form
Your medical record (including any written advance directive) may not be instantly available in a medical crisis. In the event that medical staff are unclear about your advance directive or do not have it, they will begin emergency care that may sustain your life. Treatment can be stopped if it is clear later that the treatment is not what you wanted.
We assume you want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempted in the event your heart or breathing stops. We also assume that CPR should be attempted during any type of invasive or risky procedure or test even if you have said that CPR is not desired. If you do not want CPR attempted, either in or outside the facility, please review your options for documenting your choices with your health care professionals.
If a physician has a concern about respecting your choices, you or those representing you may consider transferring care to another physician or requesting consultation with the Ethics Committee.
For More Information
For additional resources or help making a decision, please contact VCU Health’s Department of Pastoral Care (Chaplains’ Office) at (804) 828-0928 or our Department of Social Work at (804) 828-0212.
©Copyright 2010-2013. All Rights Reserved. Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, Inc. Materials developed by Respecting Choices The name "Honoring Choices Virginia" is under license from East Metro Medical Society Foundation.