A health care proxy is a document you use to designate an individual to make decisions concerning your health care if you're not able to do so. As long as you're competent, only you're in charge of health care decisions. However, if you become incapacitated or if you don’t have your mental faculties and a medical professional makes this determination, then your health care proxy has the legal authority to act on your behalf.
Decisions a Health Care Proxy May Make
It's impossible to write out your wishes for every medical situation that might arise before the situation occurs.
It's important to choose a health care proxy you trust to make decisions about key medical decisions, such as whether or not to authorize:
- A feeding tube
- A respirator
- Blood transfusions
- Medications and forms of pain management
- Diagnostic tests
The proxy should also include special provisions regarding nursing home admittance and care, as well as hospice care.
Often, people choose health care proxies based on shared beliefs and thoughts about the quality of care and have discussed certain issues in advance. You have the right to name any competent adult as your health care proxy with one exception: you may not name an owner, administrator, or employee of a hospital or nursing home where you're a patient unless that person is also related to you.
When Does a Health Care Proxy End?
Pursuant to Massachusetts law, your health care proxy remains in effect until one or more of the following occur:
- You sign a new document.
- You are legally separated or divorced from the person named as your health care proxy.
- You notify your agent or healthcare provider that you want to revoke the proxy.
- You do anything else that clearly demonstrates your wish to revoke the proxy you created.
A health care proxy is different than a living Will and is an important part of your overall estate plan. To learn more about creating one that is tailored to your unique needs, please contact our firm by filling out an online contact form or by phone at 978-657-7437.