Advance Directives

Consistent with the values of human dignity and autonomy, BJC HealthCare's hospital members and their medical staffs support patients' rights to decide the scope of their treatment. Each patient has the right to actively participate in his or her health care planning, either directly, through written instructions or by designating another person to make decisions.

An advance directive allows you to furnish instructions regarding your wishes on accepting, withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging procedures. You may use a standard state living will form, as well as other written instructions, for this purpose. Your family, physician and the hospital can refer to this advance directive in the event that you become unable to make or communicate your decisions.

You also may want to appoint a durable power of attorney for health care. The durable power of attorney for health care allows a person selected by you to consent to or refuse treatment for you should you become unable to make your own decisions. This is helpful in situations in which the living will does not apply, but where guidelines about treatment options are necessary.

Written personal instructions or the durable power of attorney for health care take effect only if you become incompetent, unconscious or otherwise unable to make informed decisions. The hospital will honor any patient-initiated document that serves as personal directions for health care or instructions from a duly appointed durable power of attorney for health care according to circumstances consistent with the mission and ethical principles of BJC HealthCare's hospital members and their medical staffs, and within state laws.

BJC HealthCare's affiliated hospitals cannot force individual professionals to deliver services that conflict with their professional, moral, religious or ethical values. Also, the hospital employees will not perform procedures that are not medically indicated, nor will they honor requests for assisted suicide or mercy killing. They are committed to quality care offered in a just and compassionate atmosphere characterized by collaboration and mutual respect. In the event that the hospital or its medical staff are unwilling to comply with a directive given by a patient or by that person's delegated decision-maker, hospital employees will assist you and your family to transfer your care to a compatible provider.

You may revoke or change an advance directive at any time you choose. The decision to provide advance written instructions for health care is a very personal one, which requires thought and communication with your family and your doctor. Whether or not you have prepared or revoked a living will, durable power of attorney for health care or other instructions, you will continue to receive medical treatments, including comfort measures which are not explicitly refused and are appropriate for your condition. You also will continue to receive all available support services, including nursing care, emotional support and spiritual assistance.