Advance Care Planning
At NYU Langone, we provide you with individualized care targeted to your treatment goals. This approach includes allowing you to choose who can make decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.
This process, called advance care planning, is a key component of our patient-focused approach to care. Life is unpredictable, and our goal is to ensure that your wishes regarding the type and extent of medical treatment you receive are fulfilled. We encourage you to talk with your loved ones about your values and preferences, and to choose a trusted representative who can speak on your behalf. This process is also known as completing an advance directive.
Naming a Healthcare Agent
Advance care planning has three basic components. First, you ask someone—it can be a family member, friend, or anyone you trust—to be your healthcare agent. They act on your behalf should your doctor determine that you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. Second, you have a conversation with that person to explain what matters most to you. Third, you fill out the healthcare proxy form. This document is an advance directive that designates that person as your healthcare agent, and outlines your wishes.
The healthcare proxy form gives you the opportunity to share instructions related to specific medical treatments. For example, you can let your healthcare agent know if you would want certain treatments or procedures, such as artificial respiration if you were unable to breathe on your own or dialysis if your kidneys go into failure. You can also indicate your preference regarding organ donation.
Some people who are seriously ill or frail may also choose to complete a medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) form. This document indicates whether you want to be resuscitated should your heart or lungs stop. The MOLST form also allows you to make other important decisions, and when signed by a doctor it becomes a medical order that is valid in all healthcare settings and at home. At NYU Langone we provide the electronic version of MOLST for your convenience.
Once these forms are completed, they can be updated at any time. This includes changing the person you select to be your healthcare agent.
Your healthcare agent is only consulted if your doctor determines you are medically incapable of making your own healthcare decisions. Your healthcare choices always remain yours to make, provided you are medically able to do so.
We understand that these are tough decisions to make and difficult conversations to have. However, expressing your wishes to your loved ones benefits everyone. You get the respect you deserve, and your loved ones have the reassurance of knowing they made the decisions that were in line with your wishes.