After almost 30 years since its adoption the Oregon Advance Directive form has been changed effective January 1, 2019. As a reminder, the Advance Directive is the legal form that Oregonians can use to appoint persons to make healthcare decisions for them should they become incapacitated and also to make end of life decisions should they become unable to communicate those decisions in the future. The Oregon Health Authority is to post the new Advance Directive forms on its website.

There are now two forms: one for appointing a health care representative (the person authorized to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot) only; and one for appointing a health care representative and also giving heath care instructions to your physicians.

Some changes from the old form are:

  1. A second Alternative Health Care Representative can now be appointed.
  2. Your signature can now be notarized or signed before two witnesses. Notarization was not previously allowed.
  3. The health care representative can be instructed to follow the instructions you have given in the form, or instead use your health care instructions as a guideline to consider when making a healthcare decision.
  4. Some of the key terms, such as life support and tube feeding, are now defined in the Advance Directive and the choice to refuse life support or tube feeding to prolong life is at the beginning of the instructions rather than the end.
  5. Additional instructions can be attached to the Advance Directive as guidelines the Health Care Representative can use.
  6. The prohibition on who can witness has been reduced to prohibiting only the health care representatives named, or attending health care providers.

Advance Directive forms that were signed prior to January 1, 2019 (on the old form) remain effective, as do old forms executed after January 1, 2019 “if the principal relied in good faith on” the law as it existed prior to the change in the form.

Remember an Advance Directive is not a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). The POLST is the order of the patient’s doctor to other medical providers. It is signed by the doctor. In contrast, the Advance Directive is the act of you appointing health care representatives and indicating end of life preferences. The Advance Directive is not signed by your doctor, but is signed by you, and your health care representatives.