Legal & Ethical Decisions

With advances in treatment, technology and surgical techniques coming quickly in our modern world, it can sometimes create difficult legal and ethical decisions. As a patient at West Suburban Medical Center, we want you to be prepared for all scenarios. When moving forward with treatment, your medical team will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each of your treatment options. We encourage you to ask any questions you may have to help you weigh all the facts. If you are having trouble making a decision, we are here to help. West Suburban Medical Center 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 are admitted to West Suburban Medical Center you will be asked if you have an Advance Directive.  These are legal documents that allow you to spell out your wishes for your care and treatment when you cannot make your own decisions.

There are several types of Advance Directives:

Living Will – This is used if you have a condition that is not curable and you do not want to have treatment that would prolong your life after your body has naturally given out. You can still receive pain medications in this type of situation. You can find an example of a Living Will document on the Illinois Department of Public Health website at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services2fhealth-care-regulation2fnursing-homes2fadvance-directives%23forms-forms-advance

Health Care Power of Attorney – This document allows you to designate another person to make health care decisions for you when you can no longer do so yourself or you want help in making health care decisions.  You can also include instructions on this document for things such as the use of feeding tubes, what to do if your heart stops, do you want to be on a ventilator (breathing machine), blood transfusion, etc. You can find an example of a Health Care Power of Attorney document on the Illinois Department of Public Health website at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services2fhealth-care-regulation2fnursing-homes2fadvance-directives%23forms-forms-advance

Mental Health Declaration – This document allows you to designate another person to make health care decisions for you when you have a mental illness that prevents you from making your own mental health treatment decisions.  In this document you instruct the other person to consent to admission to a mental health facility, agree that psychotropic medications (mental health medications) be given to you and agree to have you receive electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). You can find an example of a Mental Health Declaration document on the Illinois Department of Public Health website at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services2fhealth-care-regulation2fnursing-homes2fadvance-directives%23forms-forms-advance

IDPH Uniform Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) – Your Practitioner may ask you or your decision maker to complete a POLST form.  This form documents your healthcare treatment wishes such as Do Not Resuscitate, medication interventions, comfort care, nutrition and hydration. You can find POLST form on the Illinois Department of Public Health website at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services2fhealth-care-regulation2fnursing-homes2fadvance-directives%23forms-forms-advance

If you cannot make decisions for yourself when you arrive at the hospital, Illinois law requires the hospital to select a Surrogate Decision Maker for you. Your Surrogate will be instructed to make decisions as if they have stepped into your shoes and follow what your wishes would be for health care treatment.

Choosing to have an Advance Directive is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong decision.  If you would like more information regarding Advance Directives, please contact (708) 383-6400.