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Advance Directives

Click here to get your booklet of Ohio’s Advance Directives Forms
Revised December 2004

Ohio’s Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney

What are Advance Directives?

“Advance directive” is a general term that refers to a person’s verbal and written instructions about future medical care, in the event that the person becomes unable to speak for him or herself. Each state regulates the use of advance directives differently. There are several  types of advance directives available in Ohio:  the Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney , Ohio’s Do-Not-Resuscitate law, and Organ and Tissue Donation.

Why do I need an advance directive?

Advance directives give you a voice in decisions about your medical care when you are unconscious or too ill to communicate. As long as you are able to express your own decisions, your advance directives will not be used and you can accept or refuse any medical treatment. But if you become seriously ill, you may lose the ability to participate in decisions about your own treatment.

What laws govern the use of advance directives?

Both federal and state laws govern the use of advance directives. The federal law, the Patient Self-Determination Act, requires health care facilities that receive Medicaid and Medicare funds to inform patients of their rights to execute advance directives. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws recognizing the use of advance directives.  The booklet, “Questions and Answers: Advance Directives and End-of-Life Decisions,” available from Choice In Dying, offers more information about advance directives.

  • Ohio’s Living Will is a type of advance directive in which a person puts in writing his or her wishes about life-sustaining treatments if he or she became permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to communicate.  The person must be declared permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to communicate by 2 physicians before the Living Will becomes effective.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney is a type of advance directive that allows a person to appoint someone (an attorney-in-fact) to make medical decisions for the person in the event that he or she is unable to do so.  The DPOA-HC differs from the Living Will because the attorney-in-fact appointed through a DPOA-HC is authorized to make medical decisions in any situation where the person is unable to communicate.  It is not limited to the event of  becoming permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to communicate.
  • Ohio’s Do-Not-Resuscitate law is an advance directive which allows a person the option of not being resuscitated in the event of a cardiac or respiratory arrest.  By enrolling in this program, a person has a choice to die without heroic measures, and health care providers are provided with legal means to respect those wishes.  It is necessary to be enrolled in this program by a medical practitioner and have acceptable forms of DNR identification.
  • Organ and Tissue Donation is an advance directive choice for anyone who wishes to donate organs and/or tissues after death.  By making this decision known with family ahead of time, the person’s wishes may be carried out immediately and relieves loved ones of the burden of making this decision.

OHPCO provides information in a packet entitled Choices: Living Well at the end of Life.  Each end-of-life option available in Ohio is discussed.  Instructions and forms for completing Ohio’s Living Will, Ohio’s Health Care Power of Attorney, and a uniform organ donor card are also in this packet.  To view and/or print the Advance Directives packet, click here.

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