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An Advance Health Directive (“AHD”) is a legal document in which adults can set out in writing their decisions about future medical treatment.
An AHD comes into effect only if you are unable to make reasonable judgments about the treatment decision at the time that the treatment is required (this ability is referred to as “capacity”).
If you do not have an AHD and you lose capacity you have no legal way of making your wishes known about when to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining measures.
By making an AHD you can specify what treatment you would like to have or would like to refuse if you become seriously ill, unconscious, or are no longer able to make your own decisions, and are unable to communicate your health care wishes.
Treatment refers to any medical, surgical or dental treatment or other health care (including palliative care and life sustaining measures such as assisted ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Health professionals will refer to the AHD if you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
Please note that they may disregard a direction if it is uncertain or inconsistent with good medical practice.
You can express your wishes in a general way. For example, you can state:
If you become so ill that your directive is in force but doesn’t cover all the health conditions you suffer, then an Enduring Guardian appointed pursuant to an Enduring Power of Guardianship can make lifestyle and medical treatment decisions on your behalf and in your best interests. See “DO YOU NEED AN ENDURING POWER OF GUARDIANSHIP?”
Please note that neither an AHD nor an Enduring Power of Guardianship will cover your financial affairs so you may also need an Enduring Power of Attorney. See “DO YOU NEED AN ENDURING POWER OF ATTORNEY?”
To make an AHD you must:
You can give specific instructions about the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining measures if you are:
You can also specify your wishes about palliative care which offers comfort, support and adequate pain relief to people who are dying. An AHD improves the likelihood that the end of life preference will be upheld. It also assists health professionals to make decisions to:
Please note that euthanasia is illegal and, therefore, nobody, including your doctor, may give you anything to cause your death. Your doctor can only:
Your AHD cannot direct euthanasia. An AHD may, however, hasten death by directing the circumstances when treatment should be withheld or withdrawn.
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This publication has been prepared by AustAsia Group, including AustAsia Legal Pty Ltd (ACN 123 160 476).
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Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Accordingly, reliance should not be placed on the information contained in this document as the basis for making any financial investment, insurance or other decision. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.
Information in this publication is accurate as at the date of writing, 15 March 2017. Some of the information has been provided to us by third parties. Whilst it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, the accuracy of that information is not guaranteed in any way.
Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither the Licensee nor any member of AustAsia Group, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility, for any errors or omissions in this document.
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