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Why Advance Directives Are Necessary

Living wills and other advance directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives guide choices for providers and caregivers if you are mentally incapacitated due to illness, injury, anesthesia, medication, or end of life.

Advance directives aren't just for older adults. Unexpected situations can happen at any age, so it's important for all adults to prepare these documents.

By planning ahead, you can get the medical care you want, avoid unnecessary suffering and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. You also help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you would want people to make on your behalf.

Medical Patient Modesty encourages everyone to have advance directives that illustrate their wishes about intimate procedures, nursing home care, and type of anesthesia for any surgeries they might have.

We have been contacted by many people who were who were taken off guard when they are in a vulnerable position. These patients were violated during procedures because they were sedated or under anesthesia and unable to object to intimate procedures (ex: urinary catheter insertion, shaving of pubic area, etc.) being performed on them without their knowledge or expressed consent. Advance directives would help eliminate such traumatic experiences because they legally bind providers to honoring your wishes during treatment. This is information that should be discussed during the informed consent process, but it is often not. Yet vague consent forms allow providers to get away with leaving out information that some patients would deem important regarding their medical experience. Advance directives force providers to have conversations with patients that should be occurring during a true informed consent process. Be aware, however, that consent forms have a provision to suspend advance directives. This provision should be struck through, thereby legally binding providers and staff to honor your directives. However, this may result in the provider refusing to treat you, prompting you to seek treatment elsewhere. But at least you will have the peace of mind knowing that all of your wishes have been communicated. This is why these directives are important.

Each state has different forms and requirements for creating legal documents. Depending on where you live, a form may need to be signed by a witness or notarized. You can ask a lawyer to help you with the process, but it is generally not necessary. Be aware that lawyers will often charge you if they have to assist you in preparing your directives.

Check out a sample advance directive for a North Carolina woman that includes special instructions about intimate procedures, surgeries, etc. starting on page 4. She makes it clear that she will not accept any male medical personnel for any procedures that involve visual or physical access of intimate body parts that are covered by a two-piece bathing suit. She also makes it clear she will not be under general anesthesia or sedated. You can use this as an example, but keep in mind each state may have different requirements for advance directives. Fill in the red parts with your health agent’s name, your name, and other information.

When you have completed your documents, you need to do the following:

  • Keep the originals in a safe but easily accessible place.
  • Give a copy to your doctor.
  • Give a copy to your health care agent and any alternate agents.
  • Keep a record of who has your advance directives.
  • Talk to family members and other important people in your life about your advance directives and your health care wishes. By having these conversations now, you help ensure that your family members clearly understand your wishes. Having a clear understanding of your preferences can help your family members avoid conflict and feelings of guilt.
  • Create and carry a wallet-sized card that indicates you have advance directives, identifies your health care agent and states where a copy of your directives can be found. Here's an example of a wallet-sized health care advance directive card you can create.
  • Keep a copy with you when you are traveling.


Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions - Mayo Clinic

Advanced Directives Tell Your Surgery Wishes?

Resources To Check Out:

What You Should Know About Surgery

Unnecessary Underwear Removal For Surgeries

Sedation, Versed, and Your Procedure

Modesty Concerns for Procedures and Surgeries

Why You Should Have a Personal Advocate For Surgery?

Surgery and Your Modesty

Surgery and Your Modesty - Youtube Video


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