Texas and federal law give every competent adult 18 years or older the right to make their own healthcare decisions, including the right to decide what medical care or treatment to accept, reject or discontinue. If you do not want to receive certain types of treatment or you wish to name someone to make healthcare decisions for you, you have the right to make these desires known to your doctor, hospital or other healthcare providers, and to have these rights respected. You also have the right to be told about the nature of your illness, the general nature of proposed treatments, the risks of failing to undergo these treatments, and any alternative treatments or procedures that may be available to you in terms that you can understand.
However, there may be times when you cannot make your wishes known to your doctor or other healthcare providers. For example, if you were taken to a hospital in a coma, you would want the hospital's medical staff to know your specific wishes about the medical care that you want or do not want to receive.
Advance directives are documents that state your choices about medical treatment or name someone to make decisions about your medical treatment if you are unable to make these decisions yourself. They are called advance directives, because they are signed in advance to let your doctor and other healthcare providers know your wishes concerning medical treatment. Through advance directives, you can make legally valid decisions about your future medical care.
Texas law recognizes four types of advance directives:
- A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (living will).
- A Medical Power of Attorney.
- A Mental Health Treatment Declaration.
- An Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order.
Do I have to have an advance directive?
No; it is entirely up to you whether you want to prepare any documents. But if questions arise about the kind of medical treatment that you want or do not want, advance directives may help to resolve these important issues. Your doctor or any healthcare provider cannot require you to have an advance directive in order to receive care, nor can they prohibit you from having an advance directive. Moreover, under Texas law, no healthcare provider or insurer can charge a different fee or rate depending on whether or not you have executed an advance directive.