Advance Care Planning FAQs

Your Right to Choose

The staff of Bellin Hospital recognizes your right to understand as much as possible about your health care. It is your right to accept or refuse treatment. Advance Directives help protect these rights. The following gives you information about Advance Directives, and Bellin Hospital's policies and procedures respecting the exercise of such rights. Visit the Wisconsin Medical Society website to view a video on Honoring Choices.

What are Advance Directives?

Advance Directives are instructions written in advance that state your choices about health treatment or name someone to express those choices for you if you are no longer able to do so. A Living Will or Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to make key decisions about your future health care.

What is a Power of Attorney for Health Care?

It is a written document that names another person to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

The agent must know you well enough to be able to give the same directions for your health care as you would if you were not incapacitated. The agent should be someone you trust, such as a relative, who is at least 18 years of age and is of sound mind. Your agent cannot be your health care provider or institution. The document must be dated, signed, and witnessed by two people. These witnesses, however, cannot be relatives, potential heirs, or your health care providers.

What does incapacity mean?

Incapacity means you are not able to receive information and decide what treatment to receive, or to make your wishes known about your health care. Two doctors or a doctor and a licensed psychologist must examine the person and determine if he/she is incapacitated.

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What is a Living Will?

In Wisconsin, a Living Will is a document in which you can express choices about your care if you should become terminally ill or be in a persistent vegetative state. Most other states also have their own Living Will forms. If you have one from another state, please inform your nurse, hospital chaplain, or resource case manager.

The Living Will must be signed, dated, and witnessed by two people. Witnesses, however, cannot be relatives, potential heirs, or your health care providers.

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Is there a difference between the Living Will and the Power of Attorney for Health Care?

Yes, there is a difference. The Living Will is a statement directed to your physician describing the kind of care you wish to receive in the event you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or if you are in a persistent vegetative state. The Power of Attorney for Health Care, on the other hand, assigns broad power for making health care decisions to another specified person in the event that you become incapacitated. So while they are two different decisions to be made, Bellin has them conveniently combined into one Advanced Directive document.

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Do I need an Advance Directive?

There is always a chance you may be seriously ill, injured, or otherwise incapacitated and not able to make decisions for yourself. Having an Advance Directive will help you to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

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How long is my Advance Directive in effect? May I change my mind?

An Advance Directive is in effect until you change or revoke it. If you do so, however, be sure to tell your health care agent and anyone else to whom you have given copies of the document.

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Do I need an attorney to complete a Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Living Will?

No. A Bellin Health representative can assist you in completing this document free of charge. Although you may choose to consult with a trusted attorney.

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Bellin Hospital Advance Directives Policy Statement

  1. As patient advocates, health care providers need to inform patients of their right to make decisions concerning their medical care, including the right to formulate Advance Directives.
  2. It is in your best interest to have an Advance Directive; if you do not have one, you will still receive care.
  3. If the patient desires to sign a Living Will or a Power of Attorney for Health Care while hospitalized, Resource Case Management, Pastoral Care Services, or Nursing Supervision is available to help.

If you have additional questions or would like to schedule an Advance Care Planning appointment, please call the Advance Care Planning Line at 920 433 3773.