Healthcare Proxy: A healthcare proxy, also known as a healthcare power of attorney or medical power of attorney, is a legal document that designates an individual to make medical decisions on behalf of another person (referred to as the “principal” or “patient”) in the event that they become unable to make decisions for themselves.
The person designated as the healthcare proxy is typically a trusted family member or friend who understands the patient’s values, preferences, and wishes regarding medical treatment. The healthcare proxy’s role is to advocate for the patient’s best interests and ensure that their healthcare decisions align with their known preferences or, if those are unknown, with what the proxy believes the patient would want.
Here are some key points to understand about healthcare proxies:
- Appointment: The healthcare proxy is appointed through a legal document, usually prepared in advance while the patient is still capable of making their own medical decisions. The document must comply with the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which it is executed.
- Decision-Making Authority: The healthcare proxy has the authority to make decisions related to medical treatment, including choices about treatment options, medication, surgeries, end-of-life care, and other healthcare interventions. Their decisions should be guided by the patient’s known wishes, values, and beliefs.
- Communication with Healthcare Providers: The healthcare proxy communicates with healthcare providers, relays information about the patient’s condition, and ensures that healthcare professionals understand the patient’s preferences and wishes.
- Legal Limitations: The healthcare proxy’s authority only comes into effect when the patient is deemed incapacitated or unable to make medical decisions. Once the patient regains decision-making capacity, they resume control over their healthcare choices.
- Clear Documentation: It is crucial to ensure that the healthcare proxy document is properly executed, signed, and witnessed according to legal requirements. Copies of the document should be provided to the healthcare proxy, the patient’s primary physician, and other relevant healthcare providers.
Creating a healthcare proxy allows individuals to have a trusted person act as their advocate and make healthcare decisions that align with their values and preferences when they are unable to do so themselves. It provides peace of mind and ensures that medical treatment is carried out according to the patient’s wishes. It is advisable to consult with an attorney or legal professional to create a healthcare proxy document that complies with local laws and addresses specific circumstances and preferences. Watch this video on finStream to learn more about Healthcare Proxies: https://www.finstream.tv/videos/healthcare/estate-planning-healthcare-documents-you-need/