Legal & Ethical Decisions

While you’re at Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, you may have to make legal and ethical decisions about your healthcare. We value your patient rights and want to make sure you’re well informed in advance of those moments. 

Understanding your treatment plan is the first step. If they apply, you’re encouraged to ask the following questions:

  • Why is this procedure or treatment necessary?
  • What are my alternative options?
  • What short- or long-term results should I expect?
  • Are there risks and, if so, what are they?
  • What happens if I deny treatment? 

You may want to consider preparing a few legal documents in advance that will help you with future healthcare decisions.

Advance directive

This set of legal documents provides instructions regarding who should oversee your medical treatment in the event that you’re not able to speak for yourself. It is called an “advance” directive because it is prepared before those healthcare decisions need to be made. An advance directive outlines what types of treatments you want, as well as your end-of-life wishes, and includes both a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Living Will. The Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions for you. 

You can create an advance directive if you are 18 or older and are capable of making your own medical decisions. After you’ve chosen an agent to represent you, you should discuss your healthcare wishes with that person. If you do not choose an agent, you can still spell out your wishes in the documents. These instructions likely will center on the use of pain and/or breathing assistance and the situations under which you would not want your life to continue.

DNR Comfort Care directive

A DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Comfort Care directive spells out for healthcare workers that they are not allowed to:

  • Start an IV (intravenous line)
  • Provide respiratory assistance
  • Insert a breathing tube or artificial airway
  • Initiate cardiac monitoring
  • Practice an alternative means of intervention

Patients should consider the following options for DNR Comfort Care if surgery is needed:

  • Discontinue advance directives during surgery
  • Continue advance directives, but modify during surgery
  • Request no changes be made to DNR Comfort Care orders

As long as you communicate your wishes, you can change or cancel these healthcare directives at any time.