Advance directives are written medical orders about the kinds of care you wish to receive if something happens and you are unable to tell someone your medical wishes.

The advance directive lets you make your own decisions about your medical care in the event that:

  • You lose consciousness
  • You can no longer make health care decisions
  • You cannot tell your doctor or family what kind of care you want for any other reason
  • If you want someone else to decide about your health care if you are not able

What is an Advance Directive?

Having an advance directive means your loved ones or your doctor can make medical choices for you based on your wishes. There are two types of advance directives in Washington State.

Health care directive (also known as Living Will or Advanced Directive) is a set of written instructions about the health care that you wish to receive. It is used for unexpected end-of-life decisions in case you are terminally ill or in a vegetative state.  

Durable power of attorney for health care. This names another person to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. This form is a legal document and must be signed by a notary public. You should discuss your wishes about your health care with the person you choose as your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. You can also discuss your wishes with your family and others who are involved in your care. The Durable Power of Attorney covers more situations than a Health Care Directive.

The Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is for anybody who has a serious health condition, and needs to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment. Your provider can use the POLST form to represent your wishes as clear and specific medical orders.

➔ Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form

Talk to your doctor, family, friends, and those close to you. Put decisions about your medical care in writing now. You can cancel an advance directive at any time. Your health plan, doctor, or hospital can give you more information about advance directives if you ask.

You have certain rights about advance directives:

  • The right to make your own decisions about your medical care.
  • The right to accept or refuse surgical or medical treatment.
  • The right to have an advance directive.
  • The right to cancel an advance directive at any time.

Talk to your doctor, family, friends, and those close to you. Put decisions about your medical care in writing now. You can cancel an advance directive at any time. Your health plan, doctor, or hospital can give you more information about advance directives if you ask. You can also:

  • Ask to see your health plan’s policies on advance directives.
  • File a grievance with your plan or the Health Care Authority if your directive is not followed.

For more information, please refer to our Advance Directive Policy.

You may also earn more about Advance Directives by contacting CHPW at 1-800-440-1561 (TTY 711).