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Legal & Ethical Decisions

While you’re at Doctors Hospital of Manteca, you may have to make legal and ethical decisions about your healthcare.

You may want to consider preparing a few legal documents – such as advance directives, which include a Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will or Declaration – that will help you with your healthcare decisions.

Advance directives

California and federal law give every competent adult the right to make his or her own healthcare decisions, including the right to decide what medical care or treatment to accept, reject or discontinue.

Advance directives are legal documents that state your choices about medical treatment or name someone to make decisions or choices about your medical treatment if you are unable to make them yourself.

How do they work?

Your doctor must tell you about your medical condition and the different treatment options that can help you. Many treatments may have “side effects.” Your doctor must inform you about serious problems each medical treatment is likely to cause you.  

You have the right to accept or decline the recommended treatment. You may refuse the advice, even if the treatment would keep you alive longer.

If you are unable to make treatment decisions, your doctor will ask your closest available relative or friend to help decide what is best for you. Sometimes a situation arises in which your family and friends cannot agree, which is why it is helpful to discuss with them your wishes about what you want to happen if you cannot speak for yourself.

California law recognizes two types of advance directives: a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will [link to backstage/manteca/docs/Advanced Health Care Directive.pdf].

Durable Power of Attorney

  • You may choose an adult relative or friend you trust to act as your “agent.”  This person will speak for you if you are too sick to make your own decisions.
  • After you choose an agent, tell them how you want your medical treatments to be handled in case you are unable to speak for yourself. 
  • Discuss your healthcare decisions with your doctors and give a copy of the Durable Power of Attorney to them.
  • Keep a copy with you for future use.

Living Will or Declaration

  • Takes effect while you are still alive but have become unable to speak for yourself.
  • Signing a Living Will does not affect insurance coverage.
  • When you sign a Living Will, it tells your doctors that you do not want any treatment that would only prolong your death. All life-sustaining treatment would be stopped if you were terminally ill and your death was expected soon, or if you were permanently unconscious. You would still receive pain medication to keep you comfortable. 

Additional information

Instead of using the Living Will in the Natural Death Act, you can use any of the available living will forms. You can use a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care without naming an agent. You may also just write your wishes down on a piece of paper. Your doctors and family can use what you write to decide your treatment. However, living wills that don’t meet the requirements of the Natural Death Act don’t give as much legal protection for your doctors if a disagreement arises about following your requests.

You may revoke any of these documents at any time as long as you are capable of communicating your choices.

California is one of the few states that allows you to make organ donation a part of your advance directive document.

All of these forms are strictly optional. You do not have to fill out any of these forms if you do not wish to do so. You will still receive medical treatment. You can also just talk with your doctors and ask them to write down your wishes in your medical chart. 

The most important thing you can do to ensure your wishes will be carried out is communicate to your loved ones exactly what you want.

If you have additional questions, you can request assistance from Doctors Hospital of Manteca's Case Management Department at (209) 239-8367.

We understand your rights

All of us at Doctors Manteca want our patients to understand their rights to make medical treatment decisions.

Doctors Manteca complies with California laws and court decisions on advance directives. We do not condition the provision of care or otherwise discriminate against anyone based on whether or not you have signed an advance directive. It is your responsibility to provide a copy to this hospital so that it can be kept with your medical record. If you have any questions about advance directives, please feel free to request a copy of California Advance Directives.