House Call: Advance Directives – Talking with Family
North Carolina and federal laws give every competent adult the right to make their own healthcare decision.
Preparing advance medical directives gives adults the opportunity to declare in advance what medical treatment and decisions they want for themselves if unconscious or otherwise unable to express their wishes during a serious illness or terminal situation.
Advances in medical technology have made it possible to keep people alive well beyond the point where their lives may have meaning and quality to them. Patients who can’t communicate their wishes regarding their medical care can be kept alive by heart-lung resuscitation, breathing machines, artificial feeding and other methods.
Many people view this as postponing death rather than sustaining life. Advance medical directives should be discussed in-depth with family to establish full understanding of the wishes, beliefs and values of the individual preparing the documents.
Cone Health supports a competent adult’s right to make decisions to accept or refuse medical, surgical or mental health treatment, and encourages individuals in the community to prepare advance medical directives. Cone Health Department of Spiritual Care and Wholeness and Department of Social Work are dedicated to patient advocacy and educating families in the community about the importance of advance medical directives.
Bob Hamilton has been the director of Cone Health’s Department for Spiritual Care and Wholeness since 1979. Bob is also a long standing member of Cone Health’s Ethics Committee, which is focused on patients’ rights. He is a 1969 graduate of Duke University Divinity School, and earned a Master of Divinity from Episcopal Seminary in Virginia in 1970.