What is an Advance Directive?

It is any written instruction you give relating to the provision of health care in the event you become unable to make your own decisions. Examples of advance directives include: Living Wills; Durable Power of Attorney; and, Designation of a Health Care Surrogate. Using a directive you give specific instructions about your health care in certain situations, or designate a person to act on your behalf in decision making, or a combination of the two.

Is a Living Will the Same Thing as an Advance Directive?

A Living Will is one kind of advance directive; however, at the present time in Florida the standard Living Will only pertains to situations involving a terminal illness. Many conditions and situations may arise which do not involve a terminal illness. For example, in most cases a person who is in a “persistent vegetative state” is not considered terminally ill. The Advance Directive – Living Will is an expanded form addressing terminal illness and other conditions.

What is a Persistent Vegetative State?

The term refers to a condition caused by a brain injury. The victim is unable to respond to his or her surroundings and is not aware of anything, even though the eyes may open periodically. It is similar to a coma in that the person is unresponsive, but it is a permanent condition. A head injury, stroke or other events may result in this condition and a person may be kept alive indefinitely in this condition by artificial means.

Are Advance Directives just for Senior Citizens?

No. A severe illness or serious accident can happen to a person at any age. If you have strong feelings about what choices you would want in such a situation, regardless of your age, you are encouraged to consider an advance directive.

May I Change My Advance Directive?

Yes, you may do so at any time. If you do make changes to any advance directive, be sure to destroy all of the outdated copies and provide copies of the updated version to the appropriate people.

Will My Advance Directive Be Honored in an Emergency?

Usually it is not possible to determine the chance of survival in an emergency situation or to determine the outlook for recovery. After the initial emergency has passed and the prognosis for recovery is known, your advance directive will come into play if you are not able to express your wishes.

Is It Difficult to Stop a Treatment Once it Has Been Started?

No, not if you have an advance directive and your instructions are clear. Particularly in conditions with a sudden onset, it may take days or even weeks before the reasonable degree of certainty. During the time before the outlook is known, it is appropriate to use any treatments which might be beneficial. When the prognosis is established, if your instructions indicate you would not want continued treatment under the circumstances, treatment can be stopped.

What is a Health Care Surrogate?

A health care surrogate is a person you choose to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to do so for yourself. Your surrogate should be someone who knows your wishes and who will make decisions based on what he/she believes you would want, not based on his or her own preferences. You are encouraged to appoint a health care surrogate even if you have made other written expressions of your wishes, since it is difficult to address every situation in a directive.

May I request that I Not Be Given Food and Water Artificially?

Yes. It is believed your right to make choices includes the ability to choose not to be given food and water artificially, even if withholding this treatment shortens your life.

Are There Any Limitations on Carrying Out Instructions in My Directive if I Am Pregnant?

Yes. Most likely any instructions which would result in withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatments would not be honored during the time you are pregnant.

What About My Religious Beliefs?

Some choices you may make in filling out an advance directive may not be in keeping with the teachings of your religion. If this is a concern to you, discuss the matter with your minister, priest, rabbi or other spiritual mentor.

Do I need a Lawyer or a Notary to Complete an Advance Directive?

In most cases, no; the document need only be signed in the presence of two witnesses. One of the witnesses must be someone who is not your spouse, blood relative, heir, or person responsible for paying your medical bills. However, if you have legal effect of these documents or any other aspect of this matter, you should contact your attorney.

After I Complete an Advance Directive, What Do I Do With It?

Give copies to someone who would know if you became seriously ill. You may also want to consider giving a copy to your physician, minister, family members or close friends. Discuss with them the details of your directive and ask that they keep a copy to make available if it is ever needed. Of course you should give a copy to your health care surrogate, if you appoint one.

Can I schedule surgical services directly or do I have to go through my doctor?

You do need a referral from your doctor.  If you do not have a doctor, you can call the hospital 850-973-2271 for a list of providers in the area.  Patients are admitted to the OR through a referral from a primary care physician. The primary care physician consults with our surgeon to ensure each patient is a good candidate for our program. Once the surgeon approves a referral from your physician, a scheduler will contact you to set up an appointment. During the initial appointment, our team performs a thorough evaluation to better understand the patient’s medical history and condition to establish an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

What type of insurance do you except for surgical procedures?

Everyone’s insurance policy is different and it is best to double check with your benefits coordinator or speak to one of our financial counselors.  However, the following is a sample of the commercial policies most widely accepted:

• Aetna
• Big Bend Hospice
• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida
• Clear Health Alliance
• Humana
• Medicare
• Molina Healthcare
• Prime Health Services
• United Healthcare Medicare
• Wellcare Medicare

Does Madison County Memorial have an Emergency Room (ER)?

Yes, Madison County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) does have an Emergency Room (ER) that is open twenty four (24) hours a day and seven (7) days per week.  If you are sick please visit a local clinic or health care provider.  However, if you have a medical emergency please visit the ER.  If you are unable to drive please call 911 and Madison County Emergency Management will dispatch an ambulance.

What is the difference between an Acute Care Hospital and a Critical Access Hospital?

Acute Care Hospitals (ACH) are hospitals that provide short-term patient care, whereas Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) are small facilities that give limited outpatient and inpatient hospital services to people in rural areas.  Acute care is being a patient in a Hospital rather than an Urgent Care center.  Critical care is a unit for serious cases that need more one on one care and are normally part of emergency room care.

How many physicians are in Madison?

To date there are nine physician offices listed in Madison.  Please click here for a list of local providers.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap. You can also send us a message through our Facebook page. Please do not include personal health information in your communications through social media.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt