Your right to make decisions about medical treatment is important - and both Federal and State Law, and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare require that hospitals pay attention to your wishes. The following information is only an overview. We recommend you discuss medical decisions and your wishes with your physician, family members, friends, and lawyer. Please refer to the websites listed below for additional information. Documenting your medical decisions and wishes about medical treatment through a written Advance Directive is the best way to ensure your wishes are recognized and followed.
What is an Advance Directive?
In Colorado, there are three types of documents that are recognized by the laws of the State of Colorado and qualify as "advance medical directives". Those three documents are: CPR directives, living wills, and Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA). Each of those documents assist health care providers with information regarding your wishes for medical treatment should you be unable to make decisions at the time treatment is needed.
Colorado CPR Directive
A Colorado CPR Directive is a document that is signed by both you and your doctor that indicates your desire NOT to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation initiated should your breathing stop or heart stop beating. This type of directive is usually used by individuals who are elderly who are living with chronic illnesses or individuals who have critical, life threatening or terminal illnesses.
A Living Will is a document that has written instructions that state your wishes regarding artificial life support if you have a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state and are unable to tell your doctors what you would want regarding medical treatment.
Medical Durable Power of Attorney
A MDPOA is a document you sign naming someone to make your healthcare decisions if and when you are not able to do so. The person you name is called your healthcare agent.
Are there any other documents recognized in Colorado that will inform healthcare providers of my wishes for medical treatment?
Yes - a MOST document (Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment)
This form is a 1 page, 2 sided document that summarizes in check-box style choices for key life-sustaining treatments including CPR, general scope of treatment, antibiotics, and artificial nutrition and hydration. For each type of treatment, you may refuse treatment, request full treatment, or specify limitations.
The MOST is primarily intended for use by chronically or seriously ill persons in frequent contact with healthcare providers, or already living in a nursing facility. It is completed by you or your authorized decision maker along with a healthcare provider who can explain what each of the choices mean. Then it is signed by you (or your agent/proxy) and a physician, advanced practice nurse or physician's assistant. When it is signed, it becomes a medical order set, not an advance directive.
The MOST is honored in any setting: hospital, clinic, day surgery, long term care facility, assisted living residence, hospice, or at home.
To access the MOST form, visit the Colorado Advanced Directives website.
See the section on "important questions" for answers.