Advance Directives

What are advance directives?

An advance directive is a statement of a person’s medical choices in the event they become unable to speak for themselves. The choices specified include whether or not to have certain treatments done in case of a heart attack, coma, dementia or any other circumstance where you can’t speak for yourself. These treatments may include:

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Intubation, which is a tube down your throat to keep your airway open.
  • Artificial ventilation, or maintenance on a breathing machine
  • A permanent feeding tube in the stomach (PEG tube)
  • IV fluids
  • A temporary tube down the nose into the stomach for feeding.
  • Kidney dialysis

What are some other names for an advance directive?

You may hear an advance directive referred to as a “living will”, “5 wishes”, “LAPOST” or “declaration of health care directive”.

How is an advance directive different from a DNR?

An advance directive puts on paper what medical treatments you would want under certain circumstances in case you become unable to speak for yourself, so that your choices are not left up to other people. It is not legally binding, but serves as a guide for those who are caring for you.

A DNR is a doctor’s order not to initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event your breathing and/or heart should stop.

What is LAPOST?

EMS providers by law must provide CPR if they are called for someone whose breathing/heart has stopped, unless they have a doctor’s order (DNR) in hand. Since people usually don’t carry doctors’ orders with them, there is always a risk of being resuscitated even if you have a living will saying you don’t want to be. LAPOST was developed to fill this gap.

Louisiana Physicians Order for Scope of Treatment, or LAPOST, combines an advance directive with a doctor’s order. It is portable, so that you have your own doctor’s order, protecting you from resuscitation if you do not wish to have it in the event of a cardiopulmonary arrest.

What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is someone you appoint to be your spokesperson and decision maker if (and only if) you cannot speak for yourself. It is not the same thing as a regular Power of Attorney, which is the person someone designates to handle their financial and business affairs if he/she becomes unable to do so. A Durable Power of Attorney legally designates someone to handle both your financial and health care decisions on your behalf.

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