Law for Older Americans

Health Care Advance Directives

What is the Patient Self-Determination Act?

Most hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and HMO's routinely provide information on advance directives at the time of admission. They are required to do so under a federal law called the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA).

The PSDA simply requires that most health care institutions (but not individual doctors) do the following:

1. Give you at the time of admission a written summary of:

  • your health care decision-making rights (Each state has developed such a summary for hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies to use.)
  • the facility's policies with respect to recognizing advance directives.

2. Ask you if you have an advance directive, and document that fact in your medical record if you do. (It is up to you to make sure they get a copy of it).

3. Educate their staff and community about advance directives.

4. Never discriminate against patients based on whether or not they have an advance directive. Thus, it is against the law for them to require either that you have or not have an advance directive.

>>What is a health care advance directive?
>>How do you plan a health care advance directive?
>>Is a health care advance directive the same as a living will?
>>Why can't I just tell my doctor what I want?
>>Will doctors and hospitals recognize my advance directive?
>>What is the Patient Self-Determination Act?
>>How do you write an advance directive?
>>What kinds of decisions does a health-care agent make?
>>How do you select a health-care agent?
>>Are there any formalities of signing an advance directive?
>>Can you change or terminate your advance directive?
>>Where should you keep the directive?
>>When should you review your advance directive?
>>Is an advance directive still good when you cross state lines?

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