The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA)

The 1990 Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) encourages everyone to decide now about the types and extent of medical care they want to accept or refuse if they become unable to make those decisions due to illness. The PSDA requires all health care agencies to recognize the living will and durable power of attorney for health care. The Act applies to hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies that get Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. Under the PSDA, health care agencies must ask you whether you have an advance directive. They also must give you information about your rights under state law.

Everyone getting medical care in hospitals or extended care facilities (nursing homes), enrolling in HMOs, and entering into hospice or home care agreements must be given certain information in writing. This must include information on your state’s laws about your rights to make decisions about medical care, such as your right to accept or refuse medical or surgical treatment. You are also entitled to receive information about your right to create an advance directive. They may even offer simple advance directive forms for you to use. But it’s not a good idea to wait until you are in the hospital to fill out a form. Chances are you won’t be feeling well, and you might not be able to complete the form when you are admitted.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: May 21, 2015 Last Revised: May 18, 2016

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