Frequently Asked Questions

Planning, completing and registering advance directives can seem daunting. We’ve created this website help make the process as simple as possible for all Arizonans. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions, arranged by category. If you don’t find don’t find an answer below to your question, please contact us so we can help.

General Questions

During the 2019 legislative session, Arizona Senate Bill 1352 was passed giving healthcare providers the ability to have real-time access to patients’ healthcare wishes as documented in their advance directives.

The bill enhances provider access to advance directives by granting the move of the registry from its former location with the Secretary of State’s office to Health Current.

The 2019 legislation change that is guided the transition of the registry stated in the statute that the registry would transfer to an HIE. An HIE was chosen due to the recognition that sensitive health information was already being managed by such an entity.

Heath Current, a Contexture organization, and Arizona’s health information exchange (HIE), helps partners transform care by bringing together communities and information across the state.

Since 2007, we’ve worked to become Arizona’s primary resource for information technology and exchange, integrating information with the delivery of care to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. And now, Health Current is the new home for the Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s office finalized the transfer of currently registered advance directive documents to the new Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry (AzHDR) with Health Current in 2021.

During that interim period, any new documents that were sent to the Secretary of State’s office were forwarded to Health Current where they were reviewed and processed. Registrants that had documents with the Secretary of State received a letter in the mail with instructions on how to set up their new AzHDR account and access their documents in the new registry.

When advance directive documents are sent to Health Current, the consumer owner will receive a letter by mail with information about the AzHDR, access to log into the system for the first time to set up a new account and details about any action¬s that may be needed on their advance directives. If corrective actions are required on any document, you will be able to make them online within the system or via postal mail.

In the meantime, individuals should continue to share copies of their advance directives with their healthcare providers and those people chosen to make healthcare decisions for them.

The Registry

Yes, there is no fee for consumers to registry their advance directives in the Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry (AzHDR).

Consumers can submit documents directly to the registry without it passing through a provider organization.

There is no fee for providers to view documents in or submit documents to the AzHDR.

Yes, we provide both initial onboarding training and continued trainings for each participating provider organization and its administrator(s).

In addition, customized training can be set up for an organization to go beyond the technical aspects of the AzHDR and focus more on advance care planning in general.

There is not currently a list of all participating providers posted on AzHDR.org.

However, we will continue to add resources to the website. These resources will, in part, offer suggested partners to assist patients and their families with completing advance directives.

There are several ways a healthcare system can either directly access the AzHDR or have its electronic health records (EHR) system interface with the AzHDR for direct connectivity.

We will discuss all the options available during initial calls we schedule to better understand the organization’s workflows and determine what process will best meet its needs.

Consent is automatically provided when a patient/client signs the AzHDR Registration Agreement, which is required when uploading documents.

The W-9 is one of the documents Health Current uses to verify an organization that is going to be accessing data through one of the systems.

Each organization is unique, so as part of the onboarding process, we will look at how the organization is set up and help determine the best process for participation and the organization’s workflow.

Chaplains who are part of a healthcare organization that is participating with the AzHDR, can be set up as a user by the organization’s AzHDR administrator.

If chaplains in that organization are involved in advance care planning conversations and documentation completion, then it is very valuable to allow them to be able to view documents and complete additional forms for uploading into the registry.

However, the best team member to take on the role of administrator of the AzHDR or viewer/submitter for an organization, will depend on that organization’s workflow and designated roles. This can be discussed and determined during the initial call.

Advance directive documents do not have an expiration date.

An in-hospital DNR document or medical order that is used during a hospital stay may expire, but those are not considered advance directives in Arizona, but instead are considered medical orders, so they are not accepted into the AzHDR.

Registrants can opt out of their AzHDR accounts by sending in a completed and signed/notarized Registration Agreement that requests to remove access to their account from the registry.

Once received, the AzHDR account will no longer be available for viewing by providers or the registrant. If a registrant chose to have their documents viewable in the AzHDR, they would need to begin the process again, by completing a new Registration Agreement and sending in their advance directive documents.

If a death certificate is available, it should be sent the AzHDR, either via postal mail or email to documents@azhdr.org.

The registry does run death reports regularly and will inactivate accounts for people who have passed away; however not all registrants die in Arizona, so having the additional documentation helps to keep the registry up to date.

Advance Directives

Advance directives are documents that outline what healthcare and treatment decisions should be made if you are unable to communicate these wishes.

In Arizona, there are four types of documents that fall under this category:

  1. Living will
  2. Health care power of attorney
  3. Mental health care power of attorney
  4. Pre-hospital medical care directive – Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

A living will is a document that outlines in writing your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event you are not able to communicate this directly with your healthcare providers.

Your living will can also help guide your designated health care power of attorney (if you have elected one).

Your HCPOA can make medical decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself.

The HCPOA can discuss treatment options with your doctor and decide on the course of treatment. Your HCPOA only goes into effect when your physician states that you are incapacitated, or you are unable to speak for yourself. Additionally, you can revoke or change your document at any time prior.

It is imperative to choose someone you trust (who is over the age of 18), and feel will be comfortable carrying out and communicating your wishes.

Another factor to consider is how available this person will be to your healthcare team. It is crucial you have a conversation with the individual you are choosing, before finalizing the documents, so together you can discuss his/her role as your agent, along with your treatment and care choices.

If you have not documented your choice for a healthcare agent, in an emergency the healthcare team will turn to your legal next of kin (AZ Surrogate Decision Maker Law), who may not be the person you would have wanted to represent you. Your closest friend or significant other will not be among your legal next of kin and would not have any say in your care unless they are designated on the legal health care power of attorney document.

Experts recommend you name one person to make the decisions and then have an alternate if that person cannot communicate your healthcare decisions.

If you name two people, they may disagree, which can make them ineffective advocates for your choices and confuse or slow down the process, making it possible that your decisions are not honored.

A mental health care power of attorney (MPOA) in Arizona will allow your chosen agent to make decisions for you regarding behavioral health placement and mental health treatment if you no longer have capacity to do so due to mental or physical illness.

This can occur for reasons outside a mental illness, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or even a medication interaction. It is an important document to consider as part of your advance care planning.

Advance care planning is for EVERYONE.

You cannot predict how and when you will become seriously ill or injured. COVID-19 has been a difficult reminder that young, healthy people can have their health circumstances change in an instant. While your health care and power of attorney choices will likely change over time, you can amend your documents as often as you wish.

All people over the age of 18 should complete some advance care planning.

That’s okay. You can always update your documents.

We all experience changes throughout our lifetime. Changes in relationships, where we live and changes in our health status. Consider reviewing and updating your advance care planning documents regularly to be sure they still reflect your wishes. People should use the “5 Ds” to remind us when to review our advance directives: Death, Divorce (or change in relationship status), Decline, Diagnosis and Decade.

After updating your documents, destroy all previous copies. Notify your health care power of attorney, family and healthcare team of the changes and provide them with the updated forms. To keep track of who has these documents, you can list who has a copy on the back of your original document.

No, you do not need an attorney to complete your advance directives in Arizona.

The forms are available for free on several websites and many resources exist to assist you should you have questions. You can speak with your healthcare team, social service case manager or a member of the clergy in your faith community about completing advance directive. If you are working with an attorney to complete an estate plan, they can also assist you with completing these documents.

While thinking about and planning for what you would want when your health status becomes critical can be difficult, documenting these wishes can ensure that your choices are honored if you are not able to communicate them.

Putting them in writing provides clear instructions and gives your family peace of mind that they are representing your choices accurately. These documents also minimize the chance that family members will disagree about what choices to make, which can have a future impact on relationships.

A pre-hospital medical care directive is a document signed by you and your licensed healthcare provider that informs emergency personnel not to use means to resuscitate you. Sometimes this is called a DNR – Do Not Resuscitate.

If you have this form, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), hospital or other emergency personnel will not use equipment, drugs or devices to restart your heart or breathing, but they will not withhold other medical interventions that are necessary to provide comfort care or to alleviate pain.

POLST is a portable medical order that helps people who are seriously ill or frail receive treatments they want and avoid treatments they do not want to receive.

POLST is part of advance care planning but is different than an advance directive. POLST is only for people who are at risk for a life-threatening clinical event because they have a serious life-limiting medical condition, which may include advanced frailty, for whom their health care professional wouldn’t be surprised if they died within one to two years.

Before the healthcare provider can complete the POLST form, they must have a conversation with the person about their medical condition, what is likely to happen in the future, their goals of care and treatment options they want or don’t want. POLST forms tell other providers what care and treatments the person wants. During a medical emergency, if the person can talk, healthcare providers will talk to them about the care they want. POLST forms are used only when the person cannot communicate and need medical care. POLST is always voluntary, and the seriously ill person must sign the POLST form with the healthcare provider for it to be valid.(https://www.azhha.org/arizona_polst)

The Arizona Attorney General’s Life Care Planning packet is available in Spanish from the Secretary of State.

You can download a copy here: https://www.azag.gov/sites/default/files/docs/seniors/life-care/2020/sp/Complete_Spanish_LCP.pdf.

You can get copies of the Life Care Planning packet and the individual forms on the
Attorney General’s website or by calling the Community Outreach and Education Section at 602-542-2123.

If you did not leave a Health Care Power of Attorney and there is no court appointed
guardian, health care providers will contact the following people, in this order, who will have the authority to make health care decisions for you.

These people are called “surrogates.”

  1. Your spouse, unless you and your spouse are legally separated.
  2. Your adult child. If there is more than one adult child, the health care providers will seek the consent of a majority of the children who are available for consultation.
  3. Your parent.
  4. Your domestic partner if no other person has assumed any financial responsibility
    for you.
  5. Your brother or sister.
  6. Your close friend.

If you are healthy and strong, you may not wish to complete a DNR.

You can express your wishes about how you want to be cared for should you become seriously ill without completing a DNR. DNRs are most appropriate for people who would probably not do well with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) because they are very sick, terminally ill or otherwise extremely weak. In any case, you will need to discuss the DNR with your doctor, who will also need to sign the form.

Now, so long as you are at least 18 years of age. It is never too early to be prepared.

Each state has its own guidelines for how advance directives from other states can be utilized.

For Arizona, advance directive documents that are prepared in another state, district or territory of the U.S., based on that region’s guidelines can be valid in Arizona. If there are treatment options outlined in another state document that do not meet Arizona healthcare laws, they would not be honored in Arizona. For example, a Utah advance directive form that outlines the death with dignity process is not able to be honored in Arizona, as it is not a legal medical process in the state of Arizona.

If you have Arizona advance directives, you will need to check with the Attorney General’s office in the other state to find out if they accept Arizona’s documents.