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Advance Directives

At Baptist, we respect your thoughts and treatment preferences. Once your doctor has recommended a course of treatment, you can ensure your wishes will be carried out and that your family will not be faced with making difficult decisions. This can be done by advance directive. 

What is an Advance Directive?

Advance Directives are documents written in advance of the time when you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself. You have a right to make important legal decisions related to your care, and Baptist can help.

Baptist Health System employees and physicians will abide by your advance directives in accordance with the law. The lack of advance directives will not hamper your access to care.

Types of Advance Directives

Here are four types of advance directives recognized under Texas law:

Additional Information on Advance Directives

  • Changes to Advance Directives

    Advance Directives can be changed or cancelled at any time. If you wish to complete an advance directive, ask our staff. They can provide forms and help explain what you need to do.
  • Ethics Consultation

    Patients and families may face ethical questions during the course of care that create conflict. The Baptist Health System has a formal process in place to address ethical issues and dilemmas in your care. Should you or your family desire an ethics consultation, please ask your nurse to contact the Hospital Ethics Consultation Team.
  • Helpful Links

  • How to Deal With An Approaching Death

    When a person enters the final stages of the dying process, two different dynamics are at work. On the physical plane, the body begins the final process of shutting down. The other dynamic includes the emotional, spiritual, and mental processes that surround the end of life. Learn the signs and how to deal with an approaching death.
  • Legal Aspects of Advance Directives

    An Advance Directive does not need to be notarized. Neither this hospital nor your physician may require you to execute an advance directive as a condition for admittance or receiving treatment in this or any other hospital. The fact that you have executed an advance directive will not affect any insurance coverage that you may have.
  • Surrogate Decision-Maker

    If you become unable to make your own health care decisions and do not have a legal guardian or designated agent, then certain family members and others can make medical treatment decisions on your behalf. The State of Texas designates specific persons to act in this capacity and you may seek this specific information from the hospital or from the State of Texas.
  • Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (Living Will)

    A “living will” allows you to tell your physician in advance the type of care you desire should you become unable to make your own health care decisions.  This may include telling your physician not to use artificial methods to prolong the process of dying if you are terminally ill.

    If you sign a directive, ask your physician to make it part of your medical record. If you become unable to sign a written directive, you can issue a directive verbally or by other means of non-written communication, in the presence of your physician.

    If you have not issued a directive and become unable to communicate after being diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition, your attending physician and legal guardian, or certain family members in the absence of a legal guardian, can make your decisions concerning withdrawing, withholding or providing life-sustaining treatment. Your attending physician and another physician not involved in your care also can make decisions to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment if you do not have a legal guardian and certain family members are not available.

    A directive becomes effective only after you have been diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition. If you are a woman and are pregnant, Texas Law cannot allow for the provisions of the living will to go into effect.

    Download Form for Living Will (En Español)
  • Declaration for Mental Health Treatment

    A Declaration for Mental Health Treatment allows you to tell healthcare providers your choices for mental health treatment in the event that you become incapacitated. It applies to mental hospital treatment only.

    Unlike the living will and medical power of attorney, which do not expire, the DMHT expires 3 years from the date that you sign it. If you are incapacitated on that date, the document continues in effect until you are again able to make your own decisions.

    Download Declaration for Mental Health Treatment (En Español)

  • Medical Power of Attorney

    A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone you trust – an agent – to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make them yourself. 

    This Power of Attorney is not valid unless it is signed in the presence of two competent adult witnesses.

    Witnesses CANNOT include:

    • The person you have designated as your agent
    • A person related to you by blood or marriage
    • A person entitled to any part of your estate after your death under a will
    • Your attending physician
    • An employee of your attending physician
    • An employee of a healthcare facility in which you are a patient if the employee is providing direct patient care to you or is an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of a healthcare facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility
    •  A person who, at the time this power of attorney is executed, has a claim against any part of your estate after your death

    Your agent:

    • Has the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf only when your attending physician certifies that you lack the capacity to make your own health care decisions.
    • Must make health care decisions after consulting with your attending physician, and according to the agent’s knowledge of your wishes, including your religious and moral beliefs. These decisions can include authorizing, refusing or withdrawing treatment, even if it means that you will die. If your wishes are unknown, your agent must make a decision based on what he/she believes is in your best interest.
    • Cannot make a health care decision if you object, regardless of whether you have the capacity to make the health care decision yourself, or whether a Medical Power of Attorney is in effect.
    • Cannot consent to voluntary inpatient mental health services, convulsive treatment, psychosurgery, abortion, or omitting care intended primarily for your comfort

    Download Medical Power of Attorney (En Español)

  • Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

    An Out-of-Hospital DNR Order allows you to refuse certain life-sustaining treatments in any setting outside of a hospital. Among these settings are home health, hospice, nursing homes, ambulances, and hospital emergency rooms. This advance directive must be issued in conjunction with your attending physician and signed by two witnesses.

    Download Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate