The federal government has laws that require certain types of health care facilities to tell patients their rights upon entry, but they do not cover what will happen in the event that the patient is unable to understand those rights. To ensure that patients have some form of control over their care, even if they are unconscious, Illinois has four types of advanced directives.

All of the required forms to enact these directives are available on the Illinois Department of Public Health website. A living will lawyers can help explain which form or forms to use to establish guidance for medical professionals.

Health Care Power of Attorney

This directive specifies who is responsible for making medical decisions for the patient if the patient is unable to make the decisions themselves. The agent is only allowed to make decisions if the principal, or the person specified in the directive, is incapacitated and requires emergency medical attention. The principal can add stipulations and instructions that the agent must follow. The agent cannot be the principal’s health care professional or provider.

Living Will

A living will gives the patient control over whether medical professionals will continue to work after it is apparent that the principal has a terminal condition. If the condition of the patient is terminal, a living will must grant an agent the ability to determine if death-delaying procedures will continue.

Mental Health Treatment Preference Declaration

In the event that a patient has a mental illness, this directive specifies whether medical professionals are allowed to use electroconvulsive treatment or a psychotropic medication. The principal can assign an agent to make these decisions in the event that he or she is unable to make them. This directive is only good for three years from the day it is signed. A new one must be drafted and signed if it is still required after three years.

Do-Not-Resuscitate/Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment

If a person does not wish to have medical professionals continue to try to resuscitate them after passing, this directive must be signed. It can also specify which actions medical professionals can take to sustain the principal’s life.

These advanced directives are a way of giving as much control as possible to a patient, even when they are unable to communicate. Living will lawyers can help Illinois residents understand their rights and the steps necessary to enact each of these directives.