An advance directive is a legal document that includes a set of written instructions specifying an individual’s medical preferences in the event he/she is unable to make decisions for him/herself due to illness or incapacity. It also allows the individual to name a health care agent, which is a person he/she chooses to ensure his/her medical preferences are carried out accordingly. The health care agent must be at least 18 years old, and willing and able to make potentially difficult decisions.
Once an advance directive is considered legal, copies of the document should be given to the individual’s health care agent, health care provider(s) and family members. A copy should also be placed in the individual’s medical records.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the MN Department of Human Services (DHS) mandate that advance directive planning discussions be a part of a member’s care plan. At Hennepin Health, care guides are required to ask members about their advance directive wishes annually – and they also encourage members to have a conversation about it with their family and/or guardian, as appropriate. Any communication about a member’s advance directive preference should be documented, including if they decline to instate one.