What is a Health Care Proxy?

what is a health care proxy

Health care proxy documents, also referred to as durable power of attorney for health care or advance directives, allow you to appoint someone as your agent should you become incapacitated and are no longer capable of making decisions for themselves. Before choosing an agent it’s important that they fully understand your wishes and feel comfortable making the tough decisions on your behalf – this way the proxy document remains valid and can continue working effectively when needed.

Health care agents are legally empowered to make any decision on your behalf regarding healthcare decisions such as choosing doctors and treatment plans, accessing medical records, hiring/firing staff members, visiting facilities or hospitals when needed and more. Depending on the language of your health care proxy agreement, their authority could range from broad decision making down to specific forms of treatment; typically however, agents have legal backing allowing them to withdraw life-sustaining therapies should that be desired by you.

Your health care agent could be anyone, including you or more than one individual. Whomever you choose must be over 18 and possess enough mental capacity to comprehend all the implications and ramifications of this role before taking the time to discuss it with you. Furthermore, consider their relationship to you as well as whether they will make decisions reflecting your values, beliefs and preferences.

Your health care agent could be anyone from family to close friends to professionals like physicians and nurses. However, when choosing someone as your agent it is wise to avoid choosing close relatives who might have competing interests when making healthcare decisions on your behalf as this can cause disagreements or misunderstandings – rather consider choosing an impartial third party who knows both of you well as this may avoid unnecessary conflict of interests and disputes between themselves and you when making healthcare decisions on behalf of someone else.

Many states provide their residents with health care proxy forms, while many doctor’s offices, hospitals and senior centers also make these documents available to patients. Most state laws require these documents to be notarized or notarized with witness signatures for them to be valid; it’s wise to keep one copy with other important papers in an easily accessible place as well as giving copies out to your agent, doctor and any family or friends you wish to include as copies.

Your health care proxy remains in effect until either you revoke it or it becomes invalid due to your incapacity. You can revoke or invalidate it either orally or in writing by notifying both your agent and doctor of this decision, asking your doctor for certification that you no longer can make decisions for yourself, or creating a new health care proxy document in its place. Should you choose to cancel it entirely in writing and with two witnesses signing as witnesses.