VHHA has played a key role in the development of state laws governing health care decision-making and in assisting its members and the public in understanding and implementing state and federal laws that help patients’ make their own health care decisions. VHHA worked with a group of experts to develop a brochure, “Your Right to Decide,” that describes the provisions of state law in terms that are easy to understand. It has been revised to reflect changes in state law that take effect July 1, 2009. It is approved for distribution as required by federal law. The booklet is available in English and Spanish. Single, color copies may be ordered by contacting VHHA; large quantity orders are available by submitting the online order form. The booklet is not copyrighted and may be duplicated.

No specific form of advance directive is required under state law, and a number of options are available. First, a model form has been included in the state statute itself since it was first adopted. Second, VHHA also has worked with a group of legal experts to develop a set of simplified, more "user-friendly" forms, including the following:

    1. A basic advance directive form, designed to meet the needs of most individuals: Virginia Advance Directive for Health Care
    2. A supplement to the basic advance directive form that allows for treatment instructions by individuals with mental health conditions: Virginia Advance Directive Supplement for Mental Health Conditions
    3. A combined form that incorporates the basic form and the supplement described above on one form: Virginia Advance Directive for Health Care with Special Provisions for Mental Health Conditions (PDF)
    4. A basic advance directive form that includes optional "life-prolonging procedures during pregnancy": Virginia Advance Directive for Health Care with Special Provisions for Pregnancy
    5. A combined form that incorporates the basic form, the mental health supplement, and the optional "life-prolonging procedures during pregnancy" language: Virginia Advance Directive for Health Care with Special Provisions for Mental Health Conditions and Pregnancy

Other forms may be acceptable as well.

June 2009 article on changes to the Virginia law (updated for 2010), with link to additional resources on advance directives.

The National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) initiative has released a short video to facilitate conversations about advance health care planning and advance directives. The video may be used and shared as an educational/discussion tool in staff meetings, ethics meetings and other venues. You may view the video on YouTube or on the NHDD website.

Advance Directives Registry

On December 7, 2011, the Commonwealth launched the Advance Health Care Directive Registry, a secure online tool where Virginia residents can store their advance directives, anatomical gift declarations and other documents for access by medical providers, emergency responders, family members and others to whom they grant access to assure that their treatment wishes are honored. The registry is a public-private partnership developed over the past three years by Microsoft/Unival and the Commonwealth, with input from VHHA and other public and private stakeholders.

Administered by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the registry is entered through the VDH website at www.VirginiaRegistry.org. In addition to storing documents, individuals may download and complete a standard advance directive form on the web site. Individuals access the registry by creating an account and selecting a personal identification number and password. Registrants receive an identification card containing their personal registry information, which they may provide to health care providers, family and friends, giving them access to their posted documents.

For more information on the implementation status of the registry, contact Kim Barnes at VDH, at kimbarnes@vdh.virginia.gov