You have the right to make your own informed decisions about medical care. This section offers different documents that will help guide your care in the event that you cannot make your own decisions.

Advance Directives

Advance directives are documents that allow you to state your wishes, or name someone who will state your wishes for you, to receive or refuse medical treatment if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. In most cases, you can discuss your course of medical treatment with your physician and family. Only when you are unable to speak for yourself is your advance directive activated. We encourage you to think through these issues, share your wishes with your loved ones, and put them in writing.

Federal law requires hospitals to give adult patients information on advance directives. Be sure to let your family and doctors know if you have an advance directive.

  • Advance directives do not need to be notarized, only witnessed, signed and dated.
  • Two witnesses are required. Only one of them may be a family member or caregiver.
  • The lack of advance directives will not impact your access to care.
  • Having an advance directive will not affect insurance policies or premiums.
  • Advance directives executed in another state are valid in Texas.
  • If one advance directive conflicts with another, the later document supersedes.
  • Advance directives executed before Sept. 1, 1999, are still valid but are governed by the law in effect when executed.
  • You can revoke an advance directive at any time.

There are four types of advance directives provided below: 1) directive to physicians and family or surrogates; 2) medical power of attorney; 3) out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate order; and 4) declaration of mental health treatment. You can execute one, or several, depending on your needs and situation. Download and complete the Texas forms in English or Spanish listed below. Share copies with your doctor and your family, and take copies with you to the hospital.

Advanced Directive Forms

  1. Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates - English | Español
    • This directive allows you to specify for the provision, withdrawal or withholding of medical care in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition.
    • Your condition must be certified by one physician.
  2. Medical Power of Attorney - English | Español
    • This directive allows you to designate another person as your agent for making health care decisions if you become incompetent.
    • You do not have to have a terminal or irreversible condition for a medical power of attorney to be used.
  3. Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order - English | Español
    • This directive allows competent adults to refuse certain life-sustaining treatments in non-hospital settings where health care professionals are called to assist, including hospital ERs and outpatient settings.
    • You should carry a photocopy of your written form or wear a designated ID bracelet.
    • This directive cannot be executed for minors unless a physician states the minor has a terminal or irreversible condition.
      NOTE: The PDF form in English must be properly executed in accordance with the instructions on the opposite side (download Spanish instructions separately) to be considered a valid form by emergency medical services personnel.
  4. Declaration of Mental Health Treatment - English | Español
    • This directive allows a court to determine when you become incapacitated, and when that declaration becomes effective.
    • You may opt not to consent to electro-convulsive therapy or to the use of psychoactive drugs.
    • The declaration expires in three years, unless you are incapacitated at that time.