Key Health Care Forms and Documents that Keep Patients in Control

Last revised: 10/02/2023 (under review)
By W. Kolber, MHA

The linked documents in this post are examples of the health care forms and legal documents that are used to help people keep control of their health care choices. Since states have different laws please make sure to check with your State Health Department and/or an attorney familiar with the laws in your state to ensure you understand what is required in your state.

  1. Living Will: Also known as an “advance directive,” a living will outlines the patient’s preferences for medical treatment in case they are unable to communicate their wishes. It often addresses end-of-life decisions, such as the use of life-sustaining treatments. You can find, download, and print free advance directive forms for your state. You may need to have your form witnessed or notarized, so be sure to read the directions closely. Here are some ways you might find free advance directive forms in your state in English and Spanish.
  2. Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPA): This document designates a person (an “agent” or “proxy”) to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient if they become unable to make those decisions themselves. The agent’s authority is specified in the document by the patient. It may be as limited or broad as the patient prefers.
  3. Advance Healthcare Directives: This document combines a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. It lets patients outline their medical preferences and designate a healthcare agent. So what happens if the agent who was appointed in the POA tries to go against the wishes of the principal written within the living will? Most states will proclaim that the preferences of the patient override the authority of the attorney-in-fact.
  4. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order: A DNR order instructs medical professionals not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in case of cardiac arrest. This decision is often made in consultation with the patient, their family, and their healthcare provider. A DNR must be obtained from and signed by a doctor – this is not a form you can download on the Internet and sign on your own. Because it is a doctor’s order, only a physician can revoke a DNR.
  5. HIPAA Authorization: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers to protect the privacy of a patient’s medical information. A HIPAA authorization form allows the patient to grant specific individuals or entities access to their medical records and information.
  6. Medical Release Form: Similar to a HIPAA authorization, a medical release form allows the patient to grant permission to healthcare providers to share their medical information with specific individuals or organizations, such as family members or other medical facilities.
  7. Financial Power of Attorney: While not exclusive to healthcare, a financial power of attorney designates someone to manage the patient’s financial affairs if they become incapacitated. This can be relevant for handling medical bills and insurance claims.
  8. Organ Donation Consent Form: Patients can express their intention to donate organs or tissues upon their death or when they are still alive by signing an organ donation consent form. This decision can be crucial for saving lives through organ transplantation.
  9. Patient Registration Form: This form collects basic information about the patient, including contact details, personal information, medical history, insurance information, financial information, consent and authorization, emergency contacts, signatures and dates. It is typically filled out when a patient establishes care with a new healthcare provider. The specific content and format of patient registration forms varies by healthcare facility and may also be influenced by legal and regulatory requirements.
  10. Release of Liability: In certain cases, patients might need to sign a release of liability form before participating in activities that carry inherent risks, such as clinical trials or experimental treatments.
  11. Letter to Request Copies of Medical Records:
  12. Letter to Appeal a Denial of Coverage: Example of a letter that can be used to appeal a denial of health insurance coverage for a diagnostic test or a medical procedure.


  1. NIH, National Institute on Aging, NIA
  2. American Association of Retired People, AARP
  3. American Academy of Family Physicians
  4. Colorado Gerontological Society
  5. The Center for Healthcare Rights
  6. USA.Gov
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health

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