What are Advance Medical Directives?

They are legal documents that allow you to give directions about your future medical care in the event you become mentally or physically unable to communicate your wishes.

What document can serve as my Advance Directive?

In the state of Missouri, a Living Will or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care can be used to outline your Advance Directives. It's your right to accept or refuse medical care. Advance Directives can protect this right if an injury or illness renders you unable to do so.

Why should I consider Advance Directives?

Advance Directives can be valuable tools to important people in your life. They can help protect your right to make medical choices about your life. They can help your family by taking away the burden and stress of making difficult decisions. Finally, they can help your physician by providing guidelines for your care.

As a patient, what are my rights?

Your rights include:

  • access to care regardless of race, creed, religion, disability, age, sex or national origin
  • privacy and confidentiality concerning you and your medical care
  • information about your diagnosis, treatment and any known prognosis
  • informed consent or permission before your physician or the hospital performs any procedures, tests or treatment
  • refusal of treatment if you do not wish it to begin or continue.

How can Advance Directives protect people?

They help establish an understanding about what treatment will be administered to patients who have lost the ability to communicate due to irreversible brain damage or disease, permanent coma or other unconscious state, or terminal illness which could lead to brain damage and loss of consciousness.

Advance Directives can limit life-prolonging measures when there's little or no chance of recovery. For example, they can enable you to make your feelings known about:

  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR*) used to restore stopped breathing and/or heartbeat
  • intravenous (IV) therapy used to provide food, water, and/or medication through a tube placed in a vein
  • feeding tubes that provide nutrition when a patient can no longer eat normally
  • respirators used to keep patients breathing; and dialysis used to cleanse the patients' blood by machine, when the kidneys no longer function properly.

*Do not resuscitate orders may not be followed in the operating room

What types of Advance Directives are available?

There are currently two types of Advance Directives available to you.

Living Wills

These are written instructions that explain your wishes regarding health care if an injury or illness renders you unable to do so.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

In a written document, you can name a person (called an agent) to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so. Consider the medical possibilities. What is most important to you? 

  • To prolong life, regardless of pain, chances for recovery and cost? 
  • To avoid life-prolonging measures if the chances for recovery are not good? 

Discuss your answers with your family members, friends, attorney, physician and clergy.

How do I establish Advance Directives?

To obtain forms for Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, download the form located at the top of this page or call 417-865-4501. 

  • Put your wishes in writing by following the directions on the forms.
  • Sign and date your Advance Directives and have them witnessed and notarized. 
  • Keep a card in your wallet or purse stating that you have Advance Directives and where they can be found. 
  • Give your doctor a copy to keep in your medical records. 
  • Discuss your Advance Directives with your family and friends and give copies to those who would likely be notified in an emergency. If using the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, be sure your agent receives a copy. 
  • Bring an updated copy of your Advance Directives with you to the hospital each time you are a patient. 
  • Review your Advance Directives on a regular basis and make any necessary changes. Inform your doctor, family and agent of any changes.