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AU Memo Letterhead

September 7, 2018

Dear American University Parents and Families,

Many of you have asked about the policy on the use of existing medical directives and what can be done to ensure these directives are shared with health providers if necessary.

A medical directive is a document that allows a person to state what they want for medical care if unable to make the decision themselves – for instance, if they’re unconscious. American University does not serve as a custodian of medical directives, which is the responsibility of students, who are legally adults at 18.

If your student does have an existing medical directive, it should be kept on file with the family in a safe and accessible place where it can be faxed to a hospital if needed. While AU makes every effort to contact the family whenever a student is transported by ambulance to a hospital, we may not know immediately about some situations, particularly off-campus, and cannot maintain or release medical directives on behalf of students and families. Because the Student Health Center is not open after hours or on weekends, advanced directives kept there would not be accessible during those times.

If your student does not have a medical directive, you may wish to evaluate if creating one is a good idea for your family and have a clear conversation with your student and a legal professional about what it means. Medical directives are legal documents and the university cannot assist in writing them or provide guidance on whether or not your family should pursue them. Your health care provider, a legal professional or state health department can be good sources of specific information and assistance.

Again, this is an opportunity for you to have an important discussion with your student about how your family would handle an emergency medical situation.

If you have any questions about the university’s policy on existing medical directives, please reach out to Traci Callandrillo, Assistant Vice President of Campus Life, who can be reached at 202-885-3300 or

Thank you,
Fanta Aw
Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence