After reading Ruthe Ashley’s column about advance directives in the August issue (August 2005:56), I think it is important to remark on the presence of different laws in individual states. In New Mexico, the Uniform Health Care Decisions Act was established in 1995, and a short, but complete, advance directives document, which is readable at the sixth-grade level, was generated. This document does not require a witness (although it is recommended), a Notary Public, or legal counsel, and any specific wishes can be attached to it.

In the absence of this document, or any written advance directives, verbal advance directives given by a patient with decisional capacity to a healthcare provider who enters them into the medical record count as legal advance directives. For people without decisional capacity, there is a hierarchy of decision makers who are assumed to...

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