Advance Healthcare Directive

What are Advance Directives?

Click here to download an Advance Directives form.

Advance Directives are legal documents (recognized by the Mississippi law) that allow you to give instruction/direction for your medical care if you become incapacitated and cannot communicate your wishes.

You have the right to accept or refuse medical care for yourself.

Advance Directives help protect this right. They communicate your choices for your medical care if you cannot do so (due to injury or illness).

Advance Directives can help your family. If you cannot communicate your wishes, they provide directions. They help your doctor by giving them guidance for your care.

As a patient you also have the right to:

  • Privacy - personal and medical information is confidential
  • Informed Consent - your physician must explain procedures, treatments, and tests (the benefits, risks, and alternate treatment). You must give permission for your care. You have the right to refuse any treatment.
  • Information about your condition - you must be kept informed about your medical condition, treatment, and chances for recovery.
  • Pain management - you have the right to proper pain management. You should notify your nurse and doctor if you have pain.

Advance Directives help protect your rights, for example, when you cannot communicate your wishes due to:

  • irreversible brain damage
  • permanent coma or other unconscious states
  • terminal illness (illness leading to brain damage and loss of consciousness)

There are two types of advance directives: Living Wills and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC).

In Mississippi ( effective July 1, 1998) one document, Advance Health-Care Directive, covers all the elements of advance directives and allows you to appoint a guardian and your primary care doctor in advance.

These are written instructions that explain your wishes for health care if you are unable to communicate to others. You may not be able to communicate due to terminal illness, irreversible coma, or other illness/injury. Advance Directives are directives to be allowed to die naturally. You can authorize your physician to withdraw life-sustaining mechanisms/equipment under certain circumstances. These are used only when you suffer a terminal physical condition which causes you severe distress or unconsciousness and you would soon die except for the use of life-sustaining mechanisms.

One portion of this document gives you the opportunity to name a person and authorize the same person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make a decision because of a permanent or temporary illness or injury.

Advance Directives must be witnessed by two persons who know you personally, or notarized. Employees of the hospital cannot witness or notarize these documents.

What should you consider before making advance directives?

  • your values
  • your feelings about dying without pain and suffering and the prolonging of life
  • your religious beliefs
  • making your own decisions rather than your family doing it in a crisis

Questions you may have

What if I am unable to make these decisions?

If you become incapacitated and you do not have advance directives, your family may make a decision, or a court may have to make the decision for you.

What if I have a Living Will or DPAHC I signed when living in another state?

To be binding, these documents must meet Mississippi law. You will need to let your physician review the documents.

Do I need all parts of the Advance Directive completed?

If you do not complete a portion, you will need to note you have read it. You should discuss with your attorney, physician, or family why you did not complete a portion of the document.

When would a court make a decision for me?

As a final resort, if someone authorized to consent for you has refused or declined to do so and there is no other person known to be available who is authorized to consent, a court may order treatment for you if you are not able to do so.

What about organ and tissue donations?

At the time of your death, your legal next of kin will be approached about the donation of your organs and tissues. It is most important that you let your wishes concerning donation be known to your family prior to your death so that they might restore sight to two blind individuals, enhance the quality of life in others, and in its most dramatic form, save lives. If you have questions or need additional information, contact the Organ Procurement Agency at 1-800-362-6169.

What You Should Do:

  • Check state law. For assistance with MS. state law, decisions & legal documents: call 1-800-989-WILL (1-800-989-9455)
  • Complete an Advance Healthcare Directive Form. Click here to download a form.
  • Contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney:
    Hinds County Bar Association has a lawyer referral service -
    601-969-6097
    Mississippi Bar : 601-960-9575 (Pro Bono Project)
    Central MS Legal Services : 601-948-4471
  • Put your wishes in writing.
  • Give your doctor a copy
  • Give a copy to someone who might be contacted in an emergency
  • Bring a copy each time you come to the hospital

For more information:

Baptist Medical Center Patients contacts:

Clinical Resources Manager (dial 1172)
Nursing Administration (dial 1020)
Dial these numbers on your room phone or ask your nurse to call for you.

Baptist Medical Clinics Patients:

601-948-6262
Note: Brochures are available in the clinics.

Learn more about Advance Directives by visiting the American Hospital Association's website at the following link: www.putitinwriting.org. This website provides information in both English and Spanish.

Federal and state laws require healthcare agencies to inform adults about Advance Directives. Advance Directives are not required for admission or care at Baptist Medical Center or Mississippi Hospital for Restorative Care.

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