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Preparing for the Future: Advance Care Planning

Older couple embracing
Older couple embracing

What is Advance Care Planning?

It is never too early to think about what is most important to you should your health change. While it can be hard to think about a time when you are sick or unable to make decisions for yourself, the earlier you plan, the better chance we have of giving you the medical care that is right for you.

Learn more in this video

At Ochsner, we want your voice to be heard and your wishes respected, no matter your medical condition. Maybe you have had experiences with people close to you who have been sick. Have you visited loved ones in the ICU or hospital? Or perhaps you have watched people get sick on TV or in movies.

Reflecting on these situations can be a good first step in the process of advance care planning. If you are unable to find previously completed forms or if you cannot find them in your chart, the documents for the advance directives are linked below. Download a copy to fill out and bring to your next doctor visit.

View our printable advanced care planning forms

Anyone 18 years or older who can make their own decisions can complete an advance directive. You do not need a lawyer to complete our forms, however, the forms need to be:

  • Dated
  • Signed by the patient or healthcare representative
  • Signed by two witnesses, not related to the patient by blood or marriage and not entitled to any portion of the patient’s estate.

It is important to review your forms with those who will honor them for you every year or with any changes in your health or personal life to make sure they still reflect your wishes. You may cancel or revoke documents on file with Ochsner at any time verbally or in writing.

Copies should be given to your doctor and others you want to know of your wishes. If you should go to the hospital, bring a copy of your documents if not already on file. Keep your original documents in an easy to find location. If you are unable to download and print the documents, please ask for assistance at your next appointment.

Advance Directives

An advance directive is a legal document that provides instructions that specify what kind of treatment should be given to a person when that individual is unable to make decisions. It is usually completed in advance of any known illness and can be specific or vague.

This is a legal document that states what kinds of treatment should be given to us when we can no longer make decisions or speak for ourselves. It only goes into effect if we are suddenly ill or have lost decision-making capacity, and it is usually completed in advance of any known illness. We complete it ourselves, and unless there are other known facts, it must be honored. To become valid, it must include the signatures of two witnesses.

This document authorizes someone else to make decisions about our health care when we are no longer able to make those decisions or speak for ourselves.

The LaPOST document is more than an advance directive or health care power of attorney. It's a medical order that is completed and signed by a physician only after a patient - or their health care representatives - have discussed their goals of care and treatment preferences with their physician when they have a life limiting and irreversible condition. When completed, it must be followed by all health care professionals. The LaPOST document may complement the advance directive by translating it into a physician's order.

Frequently Asked Questions

Advance directives are your opportunity to plan ahead. A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that tells your healthcare team who to talk to about your medical care, in the event that you get sick and can’t talk to us directly. A living will is a legal document that’s more focused on the kind of treatments you would or would not want to receive if you had a sudden illness or serious advanced illness.

We really believe that this is important information for us to have for all our patients at Ochsner, regardless of whether they’re sick or not. It’s about being prepared for a sudden severe illness or unexpected health event.

No, you can choose whomever you want, including a friend, same-sex partner or family member other than your spouse. If you can, choose someone and also a back-up. It should be someone who you feel comfortable talking to about your health who can stick up for what you want. Ideally, this person lives close to you and would be available.

Ochsner will honor all valid living wills/declarations and powers of attorney for health care decisions properly brought to the attention of an appropriate Ochsner representative. The honoring of such advance directives shall be done in strict in accordance with state and federal laws governing such directives. Ochsner will not discriminate on admission or provision of care based upon the execution of an advance directive. A situation might arise, however, when your advance directive will not be implemented due to the medical judgment or conscience of individual health care providers. In these cases, Ochsner will attempt to resolve the disagreement or develop other options. Any questions you may have regarding above may be directed to the Patient and Provider Advocacy Department at any Ochsner facility 504-842-4000.

You have a right to make a complaint against a health care provider relative to advance directives requirements. Complaints regarding non-compliance by a hospital should be directed to the Department of Health and Hospitals, Health Standards Section, at 1-866-280-7737. The State of Louisiana, through the Department of Health and Hospitals, has developed this statement of your rights under Louisiana law.

None of the foregoing is meant to be legal advice nor is it intended to take the place of counsel, which can be provided by an attorney you may consult on your own.

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