Health care proxies
Section XII.a. Preparing For Your Future Health Care Needs
Question 6 of 8 (use "Last" or "Next" buttons to see more)
A health care proxy (also known as a durable power of attorney for health care, medical power of attorney or appointment of a healthcare agent) is a document that lets you to appoint another person (a proxy or agent) to express your wishes and make health care decisions for you if you can not speak for yourself.
Naming a health care agent is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you always get the health care you would prefer.
Typically, you don’t have to be terminally ill for a health care proxy to go into effect. You only need to be unable to communicate your wishes due to temporary or permanent illness or injury. In some cases a doctor may have to certify that you are incapacitated.
If you regain the ability to make your own decisions, you will again be able to speak on your own behalf. You should look at the health care proxy document periodically to make sure your agent is still the person you want to make decisions for you. If your preference changes, you can appoint a new agent.
As long as you give your agent permission, he or she will usually have the flexibility to make most treatment decisions and access any medical records that you would. However, you can place restrictions on the power of your health care agent if you specifically state these limits in the document.
It is critical to appoint someone:
Things you should discuss with your agent:
Your health care agent is supposed to make decisions based on your wishes and preferences. If issues come up that haven’t been discussed, your agent is suppose to act in your best interests.
Ideally, you should have a health care proxy and a living will that states your preferences for end-of-life treatments. The living will can act as a guide for your agent and your doctors to make sure your preferences are followed. Many states combine proxies and living wills into one advance directive document.
Some important things to know about health care proxies:
To find out more about how "power of attorney" works, click on the link in the GO TO box.
For more information on how to how to create a health care proxy document, click on the link in the GO TO box.
For advice on how to choose and talk to your health care proxy, go to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Consumer Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning. Click on the link in the LINKS box.
To find out how a living will works, click on the link in the NEXT box.