Holland Hospital respects patients’ rights under federal and state law to make decisions concerning their health care, including the right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment. Patients have the right and responsibility to make health care choices prior to, and during, the delivery of care, and to make their wishes known to their care providers.
The law requires hospitals to ask each inpatient and home care patient, upon admission, whether or not they have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. In this advance directive document, an individual—or "patient"—names a trusted "advocate" to make health care decisions for him or her in the event that the patient becomes unable to make decisions for him-or-herself. The patient is also encouraged to include instructions about his or her specific values and choices regarding life-prolonging medical care. By signing (several signatures, including witnesses, are required); the advocate agrees to honor the patient's wishes.
Advance directives are entirely voluntary, but are highly recommended for adults of all ages. Patients who already have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care are invited to supply a copy for their hospital medical record. For those interested in creating one, hospital personnel are available to help. For more information, call the hospital's Spiritual Care Services at (616) 394-3362. Regardless of whether or not a patient has an advance directive, patients and families may discuss with the attending physician their wishes regarding providing, withholding, or withdrawing care or medical treatment.
Help with Difficult Decisions
Regardless of whether or not a patient has an advance directive, patients and families may discuss with the attending physician their wishes regarding providing, withholding, or withdrawing care or medical treatment.
Sometimes decisions about a patient's treatment or next step become difficult or ethically complex, particularly when considering life-sustaining treatment or interpreting a patient's advance directive. In such cases, representatives from the hospital's Health Care Ethics Committee are available to consult with patients, their families or their doctors. The Ethics Committee is made up of physicians, nurses, ethicists, pastoral care staff, social workers, legal representatives and other support staff who have been specially trained to assist families in talking through and sorting out difficult treatment decisions. Patients or family members may arrange a meeting through their nurse or physician, or by calling (616) 394-3362.