Your right to say “No” to health care treatment is a power that Virginia takes very seriously.  The state and health care providers take it so seriously that they will even follow a person who is not able to make informed decisions if that person says “No.”

Why might someone say “No” to treatment?

Can you plan ahead for times that you want your agent and providers to ignore your “No”?

Yes.  Virginia law lets you give your agent the power to ignore your “No” when it seems that your “No” does not really reflect what you want.  Your agent should still talk to you to find out why you are saying “No” before acting.

Can I be specific about which “No’s” my agent and providers can ignore?

Yes.  You can:

  • Not give this power to your agent, or
  • You can give this power to your agent for all health care decisions, or
  • You can give this power to your agent for specific health care decisions.

What if I say “No” to an end-of-life care option?

Protests about end-of-life care options are always honored.  

For example, say that Tom said in his AD that he did not want to be kept alive on machines.  The doctors and his agent decide it is clear that he is at the end of life and time to take him off the machines like his AD says.  But then Tom comes to for a few seconds and says “No” to them turning off the machines.  In that case, everyone will listen to Tom’s “No” and leave the machines on.

Planning for the Possibility that You Might Say “No” to Needed Treatment

A person might say no to treatment because the person does not want it.  That is a “No” that providers want to respect and follow.

But a person might also say “No” to treatment because of an injury or illness that is affecting the person’s thinking.  If the person was thinking like they usually do, the person would have said “Yes” to the treatment.  That is a “No” that the person may want their agent and providers to ignore so that treatment can move forward.

Can a “No” while your thinking is affected overrule your AD?

Yes.  Even if you said you wanted a certain treatment in your AD, the doctors could not give it to you if you say “No” to it at the time it is needed.  This will slow down or even totally prevent your treatment.