Compassion and Support


Patients & Families

Practical Issues

 View the Community Conversations on Compassionate Care Video


Guarantee accessibility to your New York Health Care Proxy and Living Will.
  • Keep a copy for yourself in a secure place. Do not put the documents in a safe deposit box or any other security box that would keep others from having access to them.
  • Give a copy to your Health Care Spokesperson (“Agent”) and Alternate, your primary care physician, all specialist physicians that participate in your care and the primary hospital where you receive care. You may also wish to give a copy to your spiritual advisor.
  • A copy should be shared with a central community repository, like an electronic registry, if one exists.
  • If you enter a nursing home or hospital, have photocopies of your documents placed in your medical records.

Review and Update

Review and update your forms periodically.
  • Review after major life events like divorce, birth of a child, death of a spouse, as you may wish or need to choose a new Spokesperson (“Agent”).
  • Reevaluate your wishes if new life-threatening or chronic illnesses develop, as these chronic illnesses progress, and after complicated life-sustaining treatments. Your wishes and desires may change after these events.

Avoid Problems

Problems may arise if you fail to plan or fail to share your wishes with your Health Care Spokesperson (“Agent”), your family or your doctor. Problems may arise if your goals for care or treatment change but these wishes are not reflected in your documented forms. At times, an individual’s preferences may be unclear or the focus may be too narrow. As a Spokesperson (“Agent”), it is important to avoid making assumptions and to clarify wishes ahead of time.

Be sure to talk to your Health Care Spokesperson (“Agent”), Alternate(s), doctor(s), spiritual advisor, family and friends about your wishes concerning medical treatment. Discuss your wishes with them often, particularly if your medical condition changes.

If your wishes change after your documents have been completed, an entirely new set of documents reflecting your new wishes must be written, signed, and witnessed.

Give a new set of the documents to your Health Care Spokesperson ("Agent") and Alternate, your primary care physician, all specialist physicians that participate in your care and the primary hospital where you receive care.  These will replace the old version.

It is important to keep in mind that you can always revoke your New York Health Care Proxy and/or New York Living Will documents at any time.

Be aware that your New York documents will not be effective in the event of a medical emergency. Ambulance personnel are required to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) unless they are given a separate order that is called a “Nonhospital DNR Order.” For further information about the Do Not Resuscitate order visit the sections on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) or review the information provided by New York State Department of Health

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