Health care directives, or instructions, given in advance are commonly called advance directives. An advance directive can be one of many different types of documents that are executed by the patient. Types of documents include an Advance Directive for Health Care, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Appointment of a Health Care Agent and Living Will.

Health care providers may also initiate documents that further outline the treatment plan for a patient or identify a health care decision maker. Types of provider executed documents include Provider Identification of a Surrogate, Code Status Order and a POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) form.

Every adult over the age of 18 or any emancipated minor truly needs to have an advance directive. They have the right to inquire about, initiate, change or revoke an advance directive. The names and kinds of advance directives and related documents vary from state to state, however, VUMC honors all valid advance directives regardless of where the document originated (according to Tennessee law).