Advance Directives: End-of-Life Issues and Policies

September 9, 2020


Jennifer Wessel, JD, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst and Data Privacy Officer

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This explainer provides information on advance directives, which are legal documents that protect a patient’s right to refuse or request medical treatment in the event the patient becomes terminally ill, mentally incapacitated, or permanently unconscious.

An advance directive also allows for the designation of a healthcare proxy, or surrogate, to make decisions on behalf of the patient when these circumstances arise.

Topics include:

  • What are advance directives?
  • How are they created?
  • What are the laws governing them?
  • Who creates them?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are some problems or weaknesses with them?
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