A Medical Power of Attorney is a document that can be signed by a competent person who is
often referred to as a principal by assigning a task to a person in order to make health care decisions on a principal’s behalf. A person who handles the decision making task is an agent. The health care decision can be undertaken by the agent only when the concerned physician certifies in writing that the principal is incapacitated and files the certificate in the medical record of a principal. This enables the agent to process the health care specifications of a principal who is unable to make personal decisions.
Medical power of attorney is an important legal document and it is necessary to be fully aware of certain important facts prior to signing this document. This article outlines few significant points that have to be considered if you are willing to prepare your own personal document.
You can state in your document that you appoint a person as your agent who has the right to
make health care decisions as per your wish when you are certified by your physician that you are incapacitated to carry out with your own decisions. Your agent will have an authority to select and decide a health care option to you as the task includes any treatment or a service that can be offered to manage your physical as well as psychological condition. Your agent possesses an authority to process, withdraw or refuse the consent for life sustaining treatment. In addition, your agent will not consent to psychotherapy, abortion, convulsive therapy etc. and hence a doctor must abide by your agent’s advice or can permit you by referring you to another doctor.
It must be noted that your agent takes over the charge to make health care decisions immediately after your concerned physician certifies that you are incapacitated and consequently your agent must oblige to your suggestions or advice and follow them on your behalf. In case, if you are lack of competency, an agent has a same right to take charge of your health care decisions in a similar way as you could have had.
You must discuss with your health care provider about the medical power of attorney prior to signing the document as it is important that you understand the decision task that would be carried out on your behalf by an agent. You must discuss the issue with a person who is well-aware of the task in order to obtain a proper advice if you have not consulted a physician. You can prefer to take an attorney’s advice if you have doubt or questions related to it however, you need not mandatorily request an attorney’s assistance to complete the document.
The other important point is to make sure that an agent you appoint to handle the task must be a known person older than 18 years and whom you trust. You can only select one agent who can either take charge of making decisions or provide residential care as the law prohibits a person to perform both the tasks at a time. In addition, you cannot alter the document later as you are only permitted to completely make a new one.
In summary, the medical power of attorney gives you an opportunity to take decisions by assigning the decision making task to an agent on your behalf.