What are Advance Directives?


Illinois law allows for three types of Advance Directives:

1. health care power of attorney;
2. living will; and
3. mental health treatment preference declaration

You can also ask your doctor about preparing a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR order).

Advance Directives are the legal documents that allow you to give direction to medical personnel, family and friends concerning your future care when you cannot speak for yourself. You do not need a lawyer to complete Advance Directives.

Lifesaving procedures may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), ventilation or defibrillation.  As a patient, you have a right and obligation to make your wishes on critical healthcare decisions known to family members, physicians and hospital staff.  If you do not wish to receive lifesaving measures, you may request a “No Code” or DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order be placed on your medical chart.  A “No Code” or DNR order can be reversed at any time.  A copy of an Illinois Department of Public Health Uniform DNR order also will be made a part of your permanent record.  The “No Code” or DNR status does not mean all medical and nursing care will be withheld.  Patients will continue to receive high-quality supportive care that includes providing foods and fluids, personal hygiene, pain control and ongoing personal attention and comfort.

For more information about creating advance directives and copies of the various documents, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health web site at www.idph.state.il.us.

Planning Ahead


Illinois law gives you the right to accept or reject medical treatment.  You also have the right to give direction, in advance, about the kind of healthcare you want if the time comes when you cannot make your own decisions.
You can control your future healthcare by signing a Power of Attorney for Healthcare form naming a trusted relative or friend to communicate for you, and by signing a document called a Living Will that tells the kind of life-sustaining treatment you want or don’t want.  These documents, called Advance Directives, are written statements you make, in advance, about your future medical treatment decisions

Organ Donation


Organ and tissue donation offers patients a new chance at healthy, productive and normal lives and return them to their families, friends and communities. You have the power to change someone’s world by being an organ and tissue donor.


Advance Directives and DNR Orders include:

Health Care Power of Attorney 


A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you only if you are unable to make them for yourself. The person you appoint should be someone who knows you well and whom you trust. When the need arises, he or she can make decisions as you would make them yourself if you were able.
Give copies of your Health Care Power of Attorney to your doctor, to the person who will make your health care decisions, to members of your family, your clergy person, and your attorney.

Living Will


A Living Will is a basic communication tool between you and your physician. It describes what you would want, or not want, in the event of a terminal illness and your loss of ability to speak on your own behalf. It is a guide for family and health care providers to follow in determining your care. It is important that you let your family and doctor know about your Living Will. Give copies to your family members. Ask your physician to add a copy to your medical record. If you are hospitalized, bring a copy with you if possible or ask your family to bring a copy to the hospital after your admission.

Health Care Surrogate


If your wishes are not in writing, Illinois permits using a Health Care Surrogate. This is a person who can act on your behalf -- a spouse, an adult child, relative, or friend to make decisions for you. Unless your wishes are known, your surrogate can only do what he or she thinks you would want.




A Do-Not-Resuscitate order (DNR order) is a medical order stating that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will not be started if your heart or breathing stops. You may sign a document directing that, should your heart or breathing stop, efforts to resuscitate you will not be started. If a DNR order is entered into your medical record, appropriate medical treatment other than CPR will be given to you.