A living will directs your physician as to whether or not to cease life-sustaining procedures which would serve only to prolong your death if you are terminally ill or in a persistent or vegetative state. It gives guidelines for your physician to follow, as well as clarifies your intent as to life-sustaining procedures so that your loved ones know your wishes but also do not have to make that difficult decision.
A Health Care Surrogate, also known as a Health Care Power of Attorney, designates a health care representative if you are incapable of making health care decisions or providing informed consent. It must also be HIPAA compliant to be effective. If your Health Care Surrogate or Health Care Power of Attorney was drafted prior to 2003, then it does not contain the HIPAA language and is not valid. It is important to have this document reviewed so that your power of attorney has the ability to make a decision on your behalf.
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