Advanced Health Directive
An Advance Health Directive enables you to give directions about your health care in circumstances where you cannot personally tell your doctor or your family.
Every competent adult has the legal right to accept or refuse any recommended health care. This is relatively easy when people are well and can speak for themselves. Unfortunately, during severe illness people are often unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate their wishes—at the very time when many critical decisions need to be made. By completing an Advance Health Directive, you can make your wishes known before this happens.
What is an Advance Health Directive?
An Advance Health Directive is a document that states your wishes or directions regarding your future health care for various medical conditions. It comes into effect only if you are unable to make your own decisions.
You may wish your AHD to apply at any time when you are unable to decide for yourself, or you may want it to apply only if you are terminally ill.
Can anyone make an Advance Health Directive?
Yes, anyone who is over eighteen years of age and is capable of understanding the nature of their directions and foreseeing the effects of those directions can generally make an Advance Health Directive.
What do I need to consider before making an Advance Health Directive?
You should think clearly about what you would want your medical treatment to achieve if you become ill. For example:
- If treatment could prolong your life, what level of quality of life would be acceptable to you?
- How important is it to you to be able to communicate with family and friends?
- How will you know what technology is available for use in certain conditions?
It is strongly recommended that you discuss this form with your doctor before completing it. In addition, a doctor must complete Section 5 of the form.
The purpose of an Advance Health Directive is to give you confidence that your wishes regarding health care will be carried out if you cannot speak for yourself. However, a request for euthanasia would not be followed, as this would be in breach of the law. Under the Queensland Criminal Code, it is a criminal offence to accelerate the death of a person by an act or omission. It is also an offence to assist another person to commit suicide.
Can I cover all possible health-care decisions in this form?
No, it would not be possible to anticipate everything. However, if you wish, you can give someone enduring power of attorney to make health-care decisions on your behalf. If you have already given someone enduring power of attorney for personal/health matters, all you need to do is discuss this directive with that person and complete Section 6 when you come to it.
If you have not yet appointed anyone and you wish to do so, you will need to complete Section 7 of this form when you come to it.
You may also wish to give someone enduring power of attorney for financial matters in case you need someone to manage your property or money, e.g. if you are in a nursing home. If you wish to do that, you will need to complete a separate enduring power of attorney form.
Can I change or revoke my Advance Health Directive?
Yes, your wishes as stated in an Advance Health Directive are not final; you can change them at any time while you remain mentally capable of doing so. It is wise to review your AHD every two years or if your health changessignificantly.
If you do want to make changes to your directive, you should destroy the current one and make a new one.
You may also totally revoke your directive at any time. This must be done in writing, but no specific form is required and the person witnessing your signature does not need to be a justice of the peace, commissioner for declarations, lawyer or notary public. If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our solicitors, please contact us.