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Making Decisions About Your Health Care

You Can Make Decisions about Your Own Care

You can even refuse treatment. If you are awake and alert, you can tell your providers what you want. But what if you can't tell them? This could happen if your mind or body gets too sick or injured. 

There are three types of forms you can complete to make sure your wishes are known:

  • For end-of-life decisions, the advance directive (living will) and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
  • For care during a mental health crisis, the Declaration for Mental Health Treatment.

Completing These Forms Is Your Choice

If you choose not to fill out and sign these forms, this will not affect your health plan coverage or your access to care. See below for more information about these forms. 

End-of-Life Decisions

Healthy patients should use an advance directive rather than a POLST to make their end-of-life treatment wishes known.

​This form lets you decide and write down what you want for your care before you need it. You may not want certain kinds of treatment, such as a breathing machine or feeding tube that will keep you alive. You can write that in an advance directive. You can get a free advance directive form from most providers and hospitals. You can also find one online.

If you complete an advance directive, be sure to let your family and providers know about it. Give them copies. They can only follow your instructions if they have them.

The advance directive also lets you name a person to direct your health care. This person is called your “health care representative." Your health care representative does not need to be a lawyer or health care professional. You should choose someone who knows your wishes in detail. The person you choose must agree in writing to be your health care representative.

If you change your mind, you can cancel your advance directive anytime. To cancel it, ask for the copies back and tear them up. Or, you can write, “CANCELED" on the form in large letters, sign and date all copies. If your provider or hospital has an electronic copy, ask the staff to delete it.

For questions or more information, call Oregon Health Decisions at 800-422-4805 or 503-692-0894, TTY 711. Note: Some providers may not follow advance directives for religious reasons. You should ask your providers if they will follow your advance directive.​

​This form is for patients who:

  • Are expected to die within one year
  • Are likely to have a medical crisis and
  • Want providers to know what emergency treatments they do and do not want.

The patient's doctor would decide if POLST fits their needs. Learn more about this form on the POLST website

Declaration for Mental Health Treatment

This form tells what kind of care you want if you cannot make decisions about your mental health care. You can fill it out while you can understand and make decisions about your care. A court and two doctors can decide if you are not able to make decisions about your mental health treatment.

In the Declaration for Mental Health Treatment, you make choices about the kinds of care you want and do not want. It can be used to name an adult to make decisions about your care. The person you name must agree to speak for you and to follow your wishes. If your wishes are not known, this person will decide what you would want.

A declaration form is good for only three years. If you become unable to decide your care during those three years, your declaration will remain good until you can make decisions again. You may change or cancel your declaration when you can understand and make choices about your care. You must give your form to your primary care provider and the person you name to make decisions for you.

The OHA 9550 contains the instructions and form for making a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment.

If Your Wishes Are Not Followed:

If your provider does not follow your wishes as stated in these forms, you can call 971-673-0540 or TTY 711 or send a complaint to:

Health Care Regulation and Quality Improvement 
800 N.E. Oregon St., #465
Portland, OR 97232



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