Written by: J. Randolph Smith
An Advance Medical Directive allows you to state what you want for your own medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. You can appoint a person to act as your agent in making health care decisions for you if you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself.
If you appoint a person to be your agent in an Advance Medical Directive, that person has decision-making priority over any other individuals who could, by law, make health care decisions for you. You may also appoint another person as an alternate agent if your first choice is not available. Typically the appointed agent is a spouse or family member. We use the suggested text as provided in the Code of Virginia in the directive.
Each year in the United States April 16th is designated as Healthcare Decisions Day. This day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions related to end of life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of Advance Medical Directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions.