Legal & Ethical Decisions

With advances in treatment and technology happening everyday, new treatments and techniques can sometimes create difficult legal and ethical decisions. As our patient at Saint Vincent Hospital, we want you to be prepared for all scenarios. Your medical team will take the time to explain the advantages and disadvantages of your treatment options so you can make an informed decision. We encourage you to ask any questions to help you weigh all the facts.

If you’re having trouble making a decision, we’re here to help. Saint Vincent Hospital has an ethics committee to provide support and consultation to help you and your family with decisions such as:

  • Whether or not to participate in clinical trials or investigative therapies
  • Whether to continue or discontinue therapy
  • When to consider palliative care and hospice
  • When to consider organ donation
  • How to best make other major life decisions related to your medical treatment

Advance Directives

When you’re admitted to Saint Vincent Hospital, you’ll be asked if you have any advance directives. These are legal documents that outline your wishes for end-of-life care to your family members and medical team.

A living will is concerned with treatment that would prolong life when someone is near death. This document is often used to state that the patient does not want to be kept alive “on machines” after their bodies have naturally given out. With this document, you can also include instructions for things like the use of dialysis, tube feeding, organ or tissue donation and if you want to be resuscitated if your breathing or heartbeat stops. However, a living will does not prevent a doctor from prescribing pain medication.

Another advance directive that you may have is a durable ​power of ​attorney for ​health care. This document allows you to designate another person to make health care decisions for you when you no longer can or do not wish to.

Learn More About Advance Directives

Choosing to sign an advance directive is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong decision. If you’d like more information or documents regarding advance directives, contact our Patient Advocate Services at (508) 363-6308.