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An Advance Health Directive (AHD) is a legal document that enables you to make decisions now about the treatment you would want - or not want - to receive if you ever became sick or injured and were incapable of communicating your wishes. In such circumstances, your AHD would effectively become your voice.
The term 'treatment' includes medical, surgical and dental treatments, including palliative care and life-sustaining measures.
An AHD would come into effect only if it applied to the treatment you required and only if you were unable to make reasoned judgements about a treatment decision at the time that the treatment was required.
An Advance Health Directive sits at the top of the hierarchy of treatment decision-makers. (The hierarchy sets the order in which health professionals must seek treatment decisions when treating a person with a decision-making disability, as per Sections 110ZJ and 110ZD of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990). This means that even if you had an enduring guardian, the health professional would be obliged to follow your wishes as outlined in your AHD, except in very limited circumstances.
Detailed information about Advance Health Directives can be found on the Department of Health's website - including a consumer's guide to Advance Health Directives.
Last Updated: 23-Jan-2014
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