Legal & Ethical Decisions

Be prepared

As an active participant in your healthcare, you may need to make certain decisions. At Los Alamitos Medical Center, we have put together some information to help you talk to your medical team and better understand your treatment. We encourage you to ask questions about your treatment options including:

  • Are there alternative options?
  • Is the procedure or treatment necessary?
  • What risks, if any, are associated?
  • What long-term and short-term results should I expect?
  • What happens if I deny the treatment?

We want you to stay informed about what is available to you. Members of our medical team will do their best to explain everything to you and answer all questions you have.

You may not be aware of legal documentation that can help your medical team and family know what procedures you wish to have done should you be unable to speak for yourself. Below you’ll find information about legal documents you may want to consider talking about with your physician or your lawyer.

DNR Comfort Care Directives

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) comfort care directives explain to healthcare workers what you request not to be done, including:

  • Respiratory assistance
  • Start an IV (intravenous) line
  • Insert a breathing tube or artificial airway
  • Cardiac monitoring
  • Other means of intervention

DNR comfort care directives can be amended should you need surgery to:

  • Continue advance directives but modify for surgery
  • Discontinue Advance Directives during surgery
  • Request no changes made to DNR comfort care orders

Advance Directives

Advance Directives are legal documents that give your medical team instructions in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. They outline who should oversee your medical care, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and your end-of-life wishes.

POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment)

A POLST form converts your wishes regarding resuscitative and life-sustaining treatments you want or don't want and turns your wishes into a medical order. You work with your physician to complete a POLST form that you and your physician will sign. To complete a POLST form, talk to your physician.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy is a person you've appointed to make your medical decisions should you not be able to. Choose a person who you know well and trust. This person may need to use his or her own judgment if your wishes are not known. Speak with this person about your wishes and discuss becoming your healthcare proxy with them before naming them.

Durable Power of Attorney

For healthcare, a durable power of attorney is a legal document that names your healthcare proxy. Once written, you will sign it with a witness or have it notarized, copied and placed into your medical record. For finances, a durable power of attorney is how you legally appoint someone to manage your financial affairs if you are not able. It is a separate document from the durable power of attorney for healthcare. You may use the same person for both or choose different people to represent you.

For more details, please see our Patient Guide.