If you were unable to communicate your health care wishes during a health crisis, what would happen? Would the doctors get it right? With a health care directive you can have peace of mind that the right people are calling the shots and that your health care wishes are fulfilled. The health care directive in Utah has two parts. Part one deals with choosing your agent and giving them authority to act.

Health care agents are given authority to consent to or refuse care, hire and fire doctors, ask questions, get copies of medical records and get second opinions. If that sounds like a big and important job, it’s because it is! Consult a legal professional to get help on who in your life would be the best person to act on your behalf if you can’t. Most commonly that person is a spouse or other family member, but it doesn’t have to be.

In your health care directive you can also elect to participate in medical research or be an organ donor. If and when you cannot make decisions or speak for yourself, your health care directive will also instruct your agent on your health care wishes (this is a “Living Will“). A Living Will is a legal document that outlines your health care wishes, if you were on life support and/or unable to communicate. How much care do you want for the purpose of prolonging your life? In Utah, there are four options: 1) I choose to let my agent decide, 2) I choose to prolong my life, 3) I choose not to receive care for the purpose of prolonging my life, and 4) I do not wish to express my preferences.

Some of the above options have “sub options” and you can always add additional comments to help your agent and doctors know your true desires. A Health Care Directive must be properly witnessed and copies should be given to your agent and to your health care provider.