Advance Care Planning

Communicate Your Wishes With Your Providers and Family

Fred Hutch Supportive Care Services

Phone:  206.606.1076

If you have questions or need guidance in preparing your advance care planning documents, please contact us and a staff member will be glad to assist you or connect you with your clinic social worker.

A serious illness or accident can happen to anyone at any age. Advance care planning is a way to communicate your wishes with your physicians and loved ones. Advance care planning can also help you complete important documents, such as a durable power of attorney for health care (DPOA-HC) or an advance directive. 

These documents help you record decisions about your health care in case you become ill or injured and can no longer speak for yourself. Completing advance care planning documents is one of the best ways to make sure that your family, friends and physicians follow your health care choices.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOA-HC)

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we ask all patients to fill out a DPOA-HC when they first arrive for care. The DPOA-HC allows you to name a health care agent who can make decisions about your care, including decisions about life-sustaining treatment, if you can no longer speak for yourself. If you do not designate your health care agent, Washington state law will assign one for you.

Advance Directive

Some patients are also advised to fill out an advance directive. You may also hear this called a living will. This is a legal document used to state certain future health care decisions only if you become unable to make the decisions and choices on your own. 

Having written instructions can help reduce confusion or disagreement among your family members or health care providers. Your family and physicians are required by law to follow the instructions in your advance directive. The advance directive includes the DPOA-HC mentioned above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do These Documents Need to be Notarized?

If you fill out the DPOA-HC or advance directive, they both must be notarized OR they can be signed by two witnesses to validate the form. 

The South Lake Union Clinic offers free notary services for health care documents by appointment. Call 206.606.2081 or email to schedule. 

Do I Need to Complete Both the DPOA-HC and the Advance Directive?

No, you can complete either the DPOA-HC or the advance directive. The DPOA-HC is where you name a health care agent who can make decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself. The advance directive lets you name your health care agent and describe what treatment you would want, in the event that you have a serious accident or illness and cannot speak for yourself.  

Who Should Get a Copy of My Advance Care Planning Documents?

Once you have filled out the form you want, give photocopies of the signed original to your health care agent(s), physician(s), lawyer, family, close friends, clergy and anyone else who might become involved in your health care.  

To get your completed documents uploaded to your Fred Hutch/UW Medicine electronic medical record, please give a copy to any member of your medical team.

What If I Have Questions About Completing Advance Care Planning Documents?

Fred Hutch Social Work is available to help you complete the DPOA-HC or Advance Directive. Please call Fred Hutch Supportive Care Services to make an appointment with a social worker at 206.606.1076.