Jump to content
VCU Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery VCU Medical Center VCU

VCU Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Advance Directives

Advance directives are choices made by you about your care in advance of a hospitalization. Writing down your wishes for things such as life support and medical power of attorney in advance helps your family and doctors care for you. In Virginia advance directives include the living will and medical durable power of attorney. The patient also has the right in Virginia to accept or refuse treatment.


A competent adult patient (18 years of age or older) may refuse medical treatment or ask that it be stopped. Patients may refuse resuscitation, food and water, or the use of machines for life support even if this will result in death. Patients may also request that appropriate comfort care be given in the event of a terminal illness.


The law allows individuals to give someone permission to make medical or healthcare decisions if they are temporarily or permanently unable to do so.

How to make an Advance Directive:

  • It can be a written document that is witnessed by 2 adults.
  • It can be a verbal statement, by a terminally ill individual, that is witnessed by
    the attending doctor and 2 adults.

How to revoke/cancel an Advance Directive:

  • A signed, dated written statement indicating you have changed your mind.
  • Tear up the Advance Directive by the patient or another person in the
    presence of the patient at the patient's direction.
  • Verbal expression of intent to cancel.
  • Revocation must be communicated with the doctor.

Additional information regarding Advance Directives may be obtained from the Chaplain's office located on the 2nd floor Main Hospital. Both of these advanced directives can be activated by use of an Advance Directive Form. VCU Medical Center will make every effort to honor your wishes so long as they are clear and in keeping with good medical practice. You may get information about Advance Directives by contacting your nurse.

Questions or Concerns, Please Call 804-828-2774


<<< back to Surgery Instructions