What is an Advance Directive?


Catholic Hospice Care

A health care advance directive is a written or oral statement made and witnessed in advance of serious illness or injury to address medical situations that may arise when a person becomes unable to make one’s own decisions. Executing an advance directive exercises good stewardship over the gift of life.

There are two forms of advance directives: the designation of health care surrogate, which authorizes a person to make decisions for the incapacitated patient, and the living will, which gives instructions to physicians and caregivers regarding medical care and treatment at the end of life. TheCatholic Declaration on Life and Death merges both forms into one directive.

What is a Health Care Surrogate?

Every adult, 18 years of age and older, should designate in writing at least one health care surrogate to assist them in reviewing treatment options for an unexpected health crisis. Although while the person has decision making capacity their wishes are controlling, it is very important to have a surrogate who is prepared and authorized to make decisions for the patient and ensure that the patient’s wishes are respected if the patient becomes incapacitated.

The health care surrogate should be chosen carefully as someone who will represent the patient’s wishes regarding medical care and treatment or act in the patient’s best interest if those wishes are unknown.

What is the Catholic Declaration on Life and Death?

The Catholic Declaration on Life and Death is a health care advance directive for Florida’s Catholics and is approved by the Bishops of Florida. This directive conforms to both Florida law and the teaching of the Church. Designating a health care surrogate and providing guidance for end-of-life decisions is the best way to ensure that morally acceptable procedures are followed if you become incapacitated or unable to express your own wishes in the event of a medical emergency.

For more information on Advance Directives, please read on:
Understanding The Catholic Declaration on Life and Death