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September 2006, Volume 36 Number 9 , p 43 - 43



This patient-education guide has been adapted for the 5th-grade level using the Flesch-Kincaid and SMOG formulas. It may be photocopied for clinical use or adapted to meet your facility's requirements. Selected references are available upon request. For more tips on writing education guides, see the first article in this series: “Writing Easy-to-Read Teaching Aids” (March 2002). Special thanks to Tracy Kane, MEd, patient-education coordinator, Albert Einstein Health Care Network, Philadelphia, Pa. What is an advance directive?

An advance directive is a document that tells your doctor and family what kind of medical care you would want (or wouldn't want) if you become terminally ill and can't speak for yourself. An advance directive takes effect only if you can't express your wishes; for example, if you're in a coma.

In a living will, one type of advance directive, you tell health care providers what kind of treatments you'd want (or refuse to have) if you were dying and unable to ...

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