P.O Box 15118
325 South Belmont Street
York, Pennsylvania 17405

Health Care Decisions
Health Care Decisions
Making Decisions about Your Care and Treatment
UPMC Pinnacle Memorial acknowledges the right of individuals to decide on and direct the extent of treatment they wish to receive, or not receive, even if they are unable to communicate their wishes. We recommend that patients discuss these issues with their spouses, families, physicians or other individual while they are well and able to think clearly, and to consider the implications of their decisions. Patients have the right to make an advance directive, such as a living will, a specific document such as "Five Wishes", a durable power-of-attorney for health care, and/or to appoint someone to make health care decisions for them if they are no longer able.
Patients are encouraged bring an advance directive with you to the hospital (1) if you have one, and (2) if you want it to apply during your admission. You do not have to bring a copy of your living will to the hospital if you are being admitted for non-life threatening medical care and you are competent. However, these documents should be available to your family and /or your representatives if they do become needed if your condition changes and you can no longer make decisions about your care.
Advance Directives Questions and Answers
When can I make medical decisions for myself?
In Pennsylvania, you can decide whether to accept, reject or to discontinue treatment, unless you have been deemed incompetent to make medical decisions by a physician, or if you have not been determined to be incapacitated by a court. Certain health care facilities must, by law, provide medical care to their patients. However, even if you should become incompetent or incapacitated, you can protect your rights to limit treatment by executing an advance directive for health care, such as a Power of Attorney for health care, or a living will, while you are still able to make these decisions.
Does my health care provider have to tell me if it will not honor my wishes?
Pennsylvania law permits physicians and other health care providers to choose not to follow your living will or the requests of your health care agent in some situations, such as when they believe it would be morally wrong to do so. However, they must let you or your agent know that they won't follow the request, and make a reasonable effort to transfer you to a health care provider who is willing to honor it.
Who can make a living will?
In Pennsylvania, any competent person who is at least 18 years of age, or is a high school graduate or has married, can make a living will.
When does my living will take effect?
A living will or other advance directive becomes effective when (1) Your physician has a valid copy of it AND (2) Your physician has concluded that you are incompetent AND either in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. This means that if there is any reasonable chance that you may recover, your living will does not go into effect at that time.
How can I guarantee that my wishes will be followed in the future if I can't still express my decisions at that time?
Completing a document that states your wishes, and making sure that your legal or family representative has a copy of this document, will help assure that, if possible, your wishes will be followed. However, Pennsylvania law does not guarantee that a health care provider will always follow your instructions.
What does it mean to be incompetent?

Incompetence is the lack of ability for someone to make, or communicate decisions concerning him or herself. The law allows your physician to decide if you are competent or incompetent.
How should my living will be written?
There is no "best way" to write a living will or declaration. It must be signed for it to be valid, and if you are unable to sign it, someone else can sign it for you, and two people who are at least 18 years of age must sign as witnesses. Neither of these witnesses can be the person who signed your name for you if you were unable to sign.
To whom should I give my living will?
You can give a copy to a close family member, your attorney, a close friend and your primary care physician. We suggest that you keep a record of persons or medical facilities you have provided your living will to, as they should be notified as soon as possible if you make any changes to your living will in the future.
What rights do I have to know about my medical situation?
Your physician should tell you, to the best of his ability, your medical diagnosis, and should give you sufficient information to make an informed decision about a treatment, procedure, medication, etc. that is being proposed for you. He should give you the risks, benefits, other options for treatment, and possible side effects of the treatment being proposed. You can accept the proposal, reject it or ask for another medical opinion. If you desire a specific course of medical care and treatment (or lack thereof) that the physician or the hospital will not follow, they must inform you and help you find a provider (if possible) who will honor your wishes.
For more information
You can discuss questions with your physician, your attorney or you can contact UPMC Pinnacle Memorial.
Also, the following resources may be of assistance to you:
Go to this site
Go to the top right corner of the page. In the small white box marked "search Pa." type in "ADVANCE DIRECTIVES" and it will bring up information you can choose from.
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging website has legal information and resources to assist individuals over the age of 60 and individuals with disabilities who have low to moderate incomes. Individuals over the age of 60 should contact the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) in their area. In York County, the number is (717)771-9610.
If you are out of the York area, (But still in Pennsylvania) you can locate your local Area Agency on Aging by calling 1-877-727-7529, or 1-717-783-1550. You can also visit their website at: www.aging.state.pa.u.
www.agingwithdignity.org (Information on "5 Wishes" documents)