General Content

Advanced Directives (Living Will) and Healthcare Proxy

You can make decisions and issue directives now that will ensure that your wishes are followed in the event you become incapable of making important decisions about the medical care you receive. It is the policy of Rochester Regional Health to follow the wishes you have expressed in a properly executed Health Care Proxy and/or Living Will.

This section contains information and forms for two kinds of Advance Directives:

This material was provided by the New York State Department of Health. Please read the instructional material and forms carefully, make as many copies as you need and discuss them with your family, doctor and close friends.

Your Right to Decide About Treatment

Adults in New York State have the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatment. Our Constitution and state laws protect this right. This means that you have the right to request or consent to treatment, to refuse treatment before it has started, and to have treatment stopped once it has begun.

Planning in Advance

Sometimes because of illness or injury, people are unable to talk to a doctor and decide about treatment for themselves. You may wish to plan in advance to make sure that your wishes about treatment will be followed if you become unable to decide for yourself for a short or long period. If you don't plan ahead, family members or other people close to you may not be allowed to make decisions for you and follow your wishes.

In New York State, appointing someone you can trust to decide about treatment if you become unable to decide for yourself is the best way to protect your treatment wishes and concerns. You have the right to appoint someone by filling out a form called a Health Care Proxy. A copy of the form and information about the Health Care Proxy are available from your healthcare provider as well as this website.

If you have no one you can appoint to decide for you, or do not want to appoint someone, you can also give specific instructions about treatment in advance. Those instructions can be written and are often referred to as a Living Will.

Deciding About Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Your right to decide about treatment also includes the right to decide about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR is an emergency treatment to restart the heart and lungs when your breathing or circulation stops.

Sometimes doctors and patients decide in advance that CPR should not be provided, and the doctor gives the medical staff an order not to resuscitate (DNR order). If your physical or mental condition prevents you from deciding about CPR, someone you appoint, your family members, or others close to you can decide. A brochure on CPR and your rights under New York law is available from your health care provider.

Organ and Tissue Donation

There is one more thing to consider while doing advanced planning for health care - organ and tissue donation. By completing an anatomical gift card and notifying your family and agent, you can make a gift of improved quality of life or even life itself to another person in the event of your death.

Thousands of people wait each year for transplants which, today, are very successful. But the need is much greater than the organs available. Patients wait for these organs...hearts, livers, and kidneys. They wait for tissues...bone, corneas and heart valves. Donated organs and tissues from one person can help many see clearly again, to walk on a strong leg, to stay off a kidney dialysis machine, to live!

The medical condition of the organs and tissues at the time of death determines what can be donated. Since we don’t know the future, all of us should consider ourselves possible donors. We can pledge now to be a future donor.

There are never costs to the organ or tissue donor’s family for the donation.

Major religious groups encourage organ donation. Discuss this, if you wish, with your clergy.

Donation is a surgical procedure respectful of the body. There is no need to change your desired funeral arrangements. An open casket service is possible.

By completing an anatomical gift card and notifying your family and agent, you can make a gift of improved quality of life or even life itself to another person in the event of your death.

For further information visit MFT Biologics or Lions Eye Bank at Rochester


 Frequently Asked Questions

Advance directives are verbal or written instructions that are valuable in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury. One type of advance directive is a Healthcare Proxy. The New York State Healthcare Proxy Law allows you to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. You may give the person you select as your health care agent as little or as much authority as you want. You may also give your agent instructions that he or she has to follow. The following frequently asked questions can help in understanding the importance of a Healthcare Proxy.