Advance Care Plans

What is an "Advance Care Plan"?
An Advance Care Plan (Advance Medical Directive) is a signed and witnessed written document on which you can appoint your Healthcare Agent and state your choices for medical treatment. Virginia Law provides that three sections can be included in your Advance Care Plan.

  1. General and end-of-life healthcare instructions: records the medical treatments you DO wish to have, or DO NOT wish to have, should you lose your ability to communicate your wishes.
  2. Appointment of a Healthcare Agent to speak for you if you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
  3. Appointment of an Agent to assure your wishes for an anatomical gift of your whole body or your organs is done in accordance with your wishes.

What is the difference between an Advance Care Plan, Advance Medical Directive, Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney?
An Advance Care Plan or Advance Medical Directive is a document that covers any or all of the three components listed above. Living Wills primarily only cover your healthcare wishes and are usually in a separate document. A Medical Power of Attorney also is usually found in a separate document and usually only covers the appointment of your Healthcare Agent.

What are the requirements for making an Advance Care Plan (Advance Medical Directive)?

  1. The declaration must be in writing.
  2. Signed by the individual named in the document.
  3. Signed by two witnesses over the age of 18.

Federal Law (Patient Self-Determination Act) requires Optima Health to inform you of your rights regarding decisions about your healthcare. These include:

  1. The right to facilitate your own healthcare decisions.
  2. The right to accept or refuse medical treatment.
  3. The right to make an Advance Medical Directive (Advance Care Plan).

Virginia State Law (Virginia Code, §54.1-2982 to -2993) does not require Advance Medical Directives to be notarized, written on any special form, or drafted by an attorney. Advance Medical Directives are voluntary and you may refuse to implement one if you have a conscience objection.

Call the Sentara Center for Healthcare Ethics at 757-252-9550 to request a copy by mail.

You may also contact the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (VICAP). Their staff can help answer your questions, give you more information, and offer guidance. VICAP can be reached at 1-800-552- 3402. TTY users may call 1-800-552-3402.

The absence of an Advance Care Plan or Advance Medical Directive shall not give rise to any presumption as to your intent to consent to or refuse any particular health care.