What is a Medical Power of Attorney?
A Medical Power of Attorney is a type of “advance directive” that provides a simple way to name someone you trust (an agent) to speak to your health care providers and make health care decisions for you (the principal) when you cannot make decisions for yourself.
Do I really need a Medical Power of Attorney?
A Medical Power of Attorney makes it clear to health care professional whom you wish to make health care decisions for you. It is not the same as a General Power of Attorney in that the Medical Power of Attorney speaks to health care decisions.
Is a Medical Power of Attorney different from a durable power of attorney?
A Medical Power of Attorney is one kind of durable power of attorney. A Medical Power of Attorney gives your agent the right to make health care decisions for you. A general durable power of attorney empowers the agent to make financial decisions and usually does not give the person the right to make decisions about health care.
When can my agent use a Medical Power of Attorney?
The person you choose to make health care decisions on your behalf when you cannot is your “agent.” Any competent adult can be your agent, except:
- Your physician or health care provider
- An employee of your physician or health care provider (unless the employee is your relative)
- Your residential health care provider (a nursing home for example)
- An employee of your residential health care provider (unless the employee is your relative)
You should choose someone you trust to act according to your wishes. You want someone who has a good knowledge of your wishes (including your values, religious and moral beliefs) and agrees that your medical choices are in your best interest.
Your agent cannot make medical decisions for you unless you cannot make decisions for yourself. Your doctor must say, in writing, that you cannot make your own health care decisions. The doctor’s certification goes in your medical file. Your agent can only make medical decisions for you until you are able to make them again. You can revoke (cancel) your Medical Power of Attorney at any time.
Do I have to pay for the medical care authorized by my agent?
Yes. You are responsible for paying your medical bills, whether you or your agent requests the care.
Unless the Medical Power of Attorney limits the agent’s powers, they can make most medical decisions for you. But,
The agent cannot:
- Agree to hospitalize you for mental health services,
- Agree to convulsive treatment or psychosurgery,
- Agree to an abortion, or
- Refuse care that will keep you comfortable.