A federal law called "The Patient Self Determination Act"(PSDA) ensures certain rights to adults receiving healthcare. These include a right to confidentiality of your personal and medical records and a right to know about and consent to the services and treatment you may receive. Healthcare providers must inform consumers about making healthcare decisions in advance (advance directives) and about legal choices in making healthcare decisions. "Informed consent" is a process of communication that ensures you have all the information you need or want in order to consent to or refuse medical treatment.
Advance directives are instructions written to a healthcare provider before the need for medical treatment. An advance directive prepares for the possibility of a future illness or accident that would make it impossible for the patient to consent to medical treatment at the time it is needed. In Washington the following advance directives are common:
Living Will (sometimes called a healthcare directive) — tells your doctor what you do or do not want if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition or are permanently unconscious
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare — states who you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make your own
Code/No Code or Do Not Resuscitate — states your wishes about using CPR or not under certain conditions
Anatomical Gifts — indicates whether you want to donate your body or any body parts for other patients or for medical research
A free brochure provides additional information about how to prepare an advance directive, what to do if you change your mind, and where to find assistance. A copy can be obtained from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services by visiting the website at http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/Publications/22-015.pdf, or sending a written request by mail to DSHS Warehouse, P.O. Box 45816, Olympia WA 98504-5816, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the name of the brochure, "Your Legal Right to Make Decisions about Health Care and Advance Directives in Washington State"; the publication number [DSHS 22-015(X)]; and the number of copies requested