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Your legal health decisions

What’s an advance directive? 

What’s an advance directive? 

It’s a legal document if you’re at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor. It tells your doctors what medical care you want and don’t want. And it’s only for when you can’t speak for yourself due to an accident or illness. It’s called an “advance directive” because you make these decisions before you need care. It can include information about:


  • Whether you want to be kept alive on machines  

  • If you wish to donate your organs after you pass away   

There are four types of advance directives in Ohio:


  1. A durable power of attorney for medical care
  2. A living will (also known as an instruction directive)
  3. A declaration for mental health treatment
  4. A do not resuscitate (DNR) order


  • Sign and date it
  • Keep a copy for yourself 
  • Give a copy to your power of attorney
  • Give a copy to all your providers 
  • Take a copy with you if you go to the hospital or emergency room 
  • Keep a copy in your car (if you have one) 

  • Talk with your family, friends and physicians about your advance directive. Be sure the person you appoint to make decisions on your behalf understands your wishes. 
  • Download a template for Ohio Advance Directive at: Advance Directive Form for Ohio - CaringInfo.
  • Copy and print a second set of these forms so you will have a clean copy if you need to start over. 
  • Give the completed form to the person you have appointed to make decisions on your behalf such as your family, friends, healthcare providers and/or faith leaders so that the form is available in the event of an emergency. 
  • Save a copy of your form in an online personal health records application, program or service that allows you to share your medical documents with your physicians, family and others who you want to take an active role in your advance care planning.

It’s a document you use to choose your “healthcare representative.” This person will make healthcare decisions for you if you’re unable to make them yourself. They’ll speak for you based on what you want done or what is in your best interests. This goes into effect if you’re unable to make short-term or long-term healthcare decisions.

A living will (or an instruction directive) is another type of advance directive. It lists your wishes for medical treatment if you’re very ill and may not recover, or you can’t speak for yourself. It tells your doctors what treatment you do or don’t want. This could include treatment or care that would keep you alive when there’s no chance of recovery.

This document is more focused on mental healthcare. It allows you to pick someone to make mental health treatment decisions for you if you’re unable to make them yourself. The person can decide on medication and treatment for you.

There are two types of do not resuscitate orders:


  • Do Not Resuscitate Comfort Care (DNRCC): requires that only comfort care be administered before, during or after the time a person's heart or breathing stops.
  • Do Not Resuscitate Comfort Care-Arrest (DNRCC-Arrest): permits the use of life-saving measures (such as powerful heart or blood pressure medications) before a person's heart or breathing stops.

These orders allow you to make your choices about certain life-saving measures known to emergency services staff, health care facilities and doctors.


Talk with your provider


You can talk to your provider if you need help or have questions. We’ll help you find a provider that will follow your advance directive. If they don’t follow it, you can file a grievance.

Have a question?  

Just call us at 1-833-711-0773 (TTY: 711), 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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