Legal & Ethical Decisions
Making Informed Choices for Your CareBefore your stay at MetroWest Medical Center you may wish to prepare a few documents in advance that will help with future health care decisions. We always value your rights and want to keep you informed every step of the way.
The Role of Our Ethics CommitteeWhen a health care choice also involves an ethical concern — such as a family member’s wish to refuse life-sustaining treatment, or a disagreement between family members or other caregivers concerning advance directives — decision-making can become overwhelming. At MetroWest Medical Center, we have an Ethics Committee available to hear such concerns and work on your behalf. You, a family member or a member of your care team may make requests for a consultation.
Advance DirectivesYou have the right to formulate an advance directive, also known as a living will, that indicates your treatment wishes should you become incapacitated. An advance directive is a binding legal document that tells your doctor and your family about the types of life support you want to be provided or withheld in case you’re no longer able to make decisions for yourself.
If you would like more information about an advance directive, please consult your doctor, your nurse, the Admitting Department or one of our clinical social workers. Below are some examples of advanced directives.
Health Care ProxyIn Massachusetts, if you are at least 18 years old and competent, you have the right to name a person to make medical treatment decisions for you by completing a health care proxy form, which allows you to choose a health care agent. A health care agent is allowed to make health care decisions for you, but only after two doctors have agreed that you’re no longer able to make your own health care decisions.
Information about assigning a health care proxy will be in the admitting packet you receive when registering at the hospital. You should be aware that in Massachusetts, the health care proxy is the only legally recognized advanced medical directive. If you have concerns about how to complete the form, please contact our social work/continuum of care department at ext. 1370.