Planning for medical treatment

Adults in Massachusetts have the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatment. This means that you have the right to request or consent to treatment, to refuse treatment before it has started and to have treatment stopped once it has begun.

Sometimes due to illness or injury, people are unable to talk to a doctor and decide about treatment themselves. You may wish to plan in advance to make sure that your wishes will be followed if you become unable to decide for yourself. If you don’t plan ahead, family members or other people close to you may not be able to make decisions for you that follow your wishes.

Appointing someone you can trust to decide about treatment if you become unable to decide for yourself is the best way to protect your treatment wishes and interests. You have the right to appoint someone by filling out a form called a health care proxy.

Emerson Health has partnered with Honoring Choices, a nonprofit organization that supports adults in determining their health care choices. To find out more information about completing a health care proxy, please visit

To complete your health care proxy, first discuss this decision with your chosen proxy. You can download the form from the Honoring Choices website. The form must be signed by two witnesses (the chosen proxy cannot be a witness) or notarized.

Keep the original for your files and make a copy for your primary care provider. If you have been a patient at Emerson, you may also send a copy to the address below for inclusion in your Emerson Health medical record.

Medical Records Department
Emerson Hospital
133 Old Road to Nine Acre Corner
Concord, MA 01742

Emerson Health offers free appointments with our social work department to assist in completing the health care proxy. Please contact the care management department at (978) 287 3170 to schedule an appointment.

Advanced Directives: A Little Planning Brings a Lot of Peace of Mind

Listen to the Podcast

We explain the differences between living wills, healthcare proxies, powers of attorney, and DNRs. Learn how to get started developing these documents for yourself or family members. This episode features Emerson's Lee Holbrook, social worker supervisor, and Mary Crow, director of professional and community education at Care Dimensions.

Subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever podcasts can be heard.