Q. Is an advance directive like a Power of Attorney?
A. In one way, an advance directive resembles a health care power of attorney because both documents let you name a person (usually a loved one or close friend) to make medical decisions for you if you're unable to. But that's the only similarity between these documents.
A health care power of attorney is a broad document that gives your attorney the authority to make all kinds of health care decisions for you. But an advance directive (also called a living will) only deals with end-of-life issues, in particular the types of life-prolonging treatments or medications you wish to have administered or withheld.
Q. Does my doctor have to abide by the instructions I give in the advance directive?
A. In general, in Canada patients have the right to refuse consent for any procedure for any reason, and health care providers are required to abide by their wishes. However, they are not required to follow instructions that are against the law, such as doctor-assisted suicide.